Thursday, April 9, 2009

“I think that Pharoah is my least-favorite person in the whole planet.”

We just had a simple Seder at our house this year, since the first night of Passover fell mid-week and driving an hour north for a full family-wide holiday meal—which surely would involve Jacob interrupting the Four Questions to ask the Fifth Question, “What’s for dessert?” and Rebecca crying hysterically when I refused to let her wear Disney Princess pajama pants to the gathering—seemed like an awful lot of effort to go through for foods we don’t enjoy.

Because—as shocking and scandalous as this will sound—we don’t like Passover foods.

Barry and I are both Jewish, but we eat like we’re Greek or Thai or Italian, preferring garlic and red pepper to boiled chicken fat as our spices of choice. This subversive take on our own cuisine is partially what’s kept us married happily for almost eight years; not liking the foods our grandmothers slaved over the stove to prepare for us when we were kids might be, short of our love for our children—our only shared passion. Barry’s a night owl and a sports nut and I’m an early-to-bed-early-to-rise athletic pacifist, but when it comes to detesting brisket, lamb, chopped liver, gefilte fish and anything involving kippuring or “herring,” we are indeed a match made in Heaven.

So since the Seder meal was only going to be consumed by us herring haters and two picky kids, the menu consisted of: Tilapia Veracruz (sautéed onions, orange peppers, garlic, jalepeno and cumin), a baked potato and steamed broccoli. Matzoh on the side. Our Seder plate had all the usual suspects: the egg, the scoop of haroset (not made by me—purchased from Aroma kosher supermarket), the parsley, the bitter herb and the salt water. We don’t eat lamb and even with chicken, we get the boneless, skinless fillets, so Barry had to make a pretend bone out of paper, scissors and marker. (It kind of looked like the bone Pebbles from “The Flintstones” wore in her hair.)

With unappetizing food no longer an issue, we were able to actually have some fun with the rest of the Passover proceedings. Rebecca did charming renditions of “Oh Where, Oh Where is the Afikomen” and a cheerful song about all the happy frogs that jumped on the evil Pharoah and his soldiers during the Ten Plagues. Jacob read the English translation of the Four Questions and Barry and I sang them in Hebrew.

Then after our meal, we “reclined” in front of the computer to watch “Who Let the Jews Out?” on YouTube. It was a very nice Seder, all things considered. (Not fighting Rebecca about the pajama pants definitely was an improvement over any outing involving leaving the house.)

My mother-in-law had bought the kids a copy of “My First Passover Board Book” a few years ago, and that was what I read them at bedtime. When I read it to Rebecca, I skipped the part about Pharoah killing all Jewish baby boys…but Jacob can read. He was pretty shocked by that. “I think that Pharoah is my least-favorite person in the whole planet, Mommy,” he told me. “He would have killed me when I was a baby.”

Before I kissed Jacob good night, I thought sadly to myself that Pharoah wasn’t the only bad guy in our history. There was Hitler, Haman, the Spanish inquisition...the list goes on. We’ve got a gory past, and in some places of the world, a gory present. I’m just grateful I can provide my children with what I hope will be a safer future.

It’s worth it to choke down some tasteless cardboard, to keep that in mind. Although for the most part, I have to confess I’ll be sticking to recipes from Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet during this week of no bread and pasta. There’s only so much matzoh-meal a girl can take.


Sarah said...

I think Jacob has valid opinions on Pharoah, Haman, and Hitler. Awful dudes, every one of them.

Glad it was a nice night.

I was actually just given a book on a Seder meal about an hour ago. I won't do it with Abigail this year, but I look forward to doing it with her (and Ava) in years to come. It's actually a Messianic Seder meal, but I think the 4 questions and the meal itself remain the same as with a traditional, Jewish Seder.

prashant said...

Awful dudes, every one of them.

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