Sunday, April 17, 2011
I've written about Passover and other Jewish holiday food many times. One thought on the subject: there are so many traditional foods for which I use my food processor grating attachment. Grating potatoes for latkes or apples and nuts for charoset is very labor intensive if you don't have an automated device; I wonder how they became traditional. Carol suggested that the women in an extended family would gather to make these foods, thus sharing the labor and also ensuring continuity of the traditions.
Also, grating or chopping allows one to effectively share scarce ingredients. Latkes use grated potato -- the abundant ingredient -- to extend the scarcer eggs. Passover is early in the spring, so any fruit our ancestors had would have been saved from the previous year. Besides resembling the mortar for the pyramids, charoset allowed many people to share a few apples, raisins, and nuts. Tsimmis used root vegetables to allow sharing a small amount of meat and dried fruit, if you had it.
In ancient Israel, Passover was not quite as much a time of scarcity: the spring lambs would already be the right size to be sacrificed in the Temple. Later Passover became a time to give up one food: bread. So I don't think it's outside the holiday tradition to remember how lucky we are to have abundant food, as well as remembering the other messages of the holiday.