Last night saw sixteen family and friends gather round numerous trestle tables to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover: a time to commemorate the freedom of the Jews from slavery 3,000 years ago. Food forms an integral part of all Jewish events and Passover is no different. The opening prayers are punctuated by the eating of pain-inducing food such as whole pieces of horseradish, parsley in salt water and a boiled egg in salt water. The resulting wincing symbolises the suffering of our forefathers.
Fortunately we get to gorge on good stuff once we’ve got the opening prayers and pain over with. Our family meal reflects our Ashkenazi roots: I come from a line of Jews once based in Poland and Russia and many of the food traditions come from that region. We start with delicious, penicillin like, chicken soup cooked over a 24 hour period. It’s accompanied by doughy style kneidlach which are basically yummy dumplings eaten with unleavened bread called Matza. We then move onto a veritable smorgasbord of cold meats such as cow tongue and salt beef accompanied by pickled cucumbers and the most popular of Jewish foods: Viennas. Viennas are pre-cooked baby beef sausages you boil for few minutes before serving. Invariably they disappear from the table moments after they’re served and are then covered in ketchup and mustard.
Dessert is always a tricky one – no milky ingredients are allowed according to the Kosher dietary laws and no flour is permitted for Passover. So what does that leave you with? Well predominantly almond base cakes such as brownies and wonderful fruit kebabs that leave you feeling somewhat refreshed after the two hour meal.
Hebrew songs cue the close of the Passover meal and we all roll home stuffed like a good Kosher chicken. We then do it all again for second night of the festival 24 hours later.