Sunday, April 13, 2008

passing over

Pesach is coming.

Oh, heaven help us (and please note the distinction here: Passover, or Pesach, might be about heaven helping the Israelites. But the dusting and schlepping of non-Passover dishes is purely human. Bah. Humbug. Repeat as necessary).

Bah, humbug.

Yep, the Man and I are wrapping dishes in newspaper, wiping out cabinets in our wee kitchen, and hauling boxes down through the trap-door to the basement. Not to mention the burning stovetop and boiling water. Heave, ho me hearties.

This is the kind of effort that takes place after the kids are asleep (wrapping china with smalls running around? Boiling water? um, no), and takes long enough and requires enough effort that you spend some time eyeing the other guy, to make sure they're pulling their weight. After some blog-time tonight, I came downstairs to find the Man washing non-Passover dinner dishes.

Get some good work done? he asked, casually. Oh, ya, I said in an equally casual tone. Did some blogging, the boss-lady wants a conference call, that sort of thing. The Man tried to raise an eyebrow. Hm, he said. I looked at him and quirked one of mine. Bring it on, big boy, I thought. I've boxed, wrapped and planned every dish in this house. What have you got? I glanced at the Passover Prep List (a.k.a. Mum's List) on the refrigerator, made two weeks ago and hung (ceremoniously) today. The Man caught the quirk and the glance, and wisely subsided into a less-ominous silence. I considered the quiet furies that I had while the Man had his quarterly work freak-out in the midst of my early-Passover panic, and decided that I owed him one. Generously, I let it slide.

Marital fun aside, I actually find Passover to be a major religious irritant, mostly because the job of the halacha (Judaic law) for Passover is to make sure that there is no leavened bread in our home during the holiday. Given that 'bread' is defined as being a substance made from wheat, oats, rye, barley or spelt, my creations wouldn't be a problem. Nonetheless. we do have wheat products in the house - one, a packaged snack for the Eldest, which goes from store to high shelf to lunchbag, all without being opened, and the other a bottle of single malt scotch that I will be able to drink, some day, when the Toddles has finished weaning himself - and therefore, we clean and replace our everyday dishes with Passover-specific ones.

Bah, humbug.

I think we do it because we're part of a community who practices this way, although possibly we do this because the Man and I have done it so for long years before the Toddles turned up and changed our dinnertimes, not to mention our breakfast and lunch-times. Although this past Pesach was the first that we spent as reformed Sephardis (heavens, but I owe Wiki one for this post), which meant that our Pesach foods included soy, beans and rice. Nutritionally, this was crucial, and we ate quite happily that Pesach.

And eat well we should. After all, how different is Pesach from our menus year-round? We non-gluten eaters should barely notice the difference between Pesach and non-Pesach, particularly if you are Sephardi. I congratulated myself on a halachik move well made, and told the Man that he should give up and join the rest of us. We were, after all, eating a garlicky fresh corn salad with a lime juice dressing. Didn't he want some?

But the shift from Ashekenazi-style to Sephardi-style Passover opened a can of, well, beans. Making Toddle-friendly matza means making a matza from chickpea or soy flour. Finding such supervised kosher for Passover is tricky, especially as the Sephardic rabbinate is limited in their resources. When I called to ask last year about Tinkyada pasta, a supervised kosher line of gluten-free pastas made by a company that makes nothing but rice pastas, in a facility that makes nothing but rice pastas, I was told that they'd not time to check the company out. So? I asked, irked. I have fairly good evidence from a source highly sensitive to any of the Passover-prohibited grains that there are none on the premises. I explained. The rabbi sighed. Serve it to your children, certainly, he told me. But maybe not to adults? I understood that without having actually observed the comapny's manufactory, the rabbi couldn't formally approve the pasta - but, given that kids were involved, he was trying to help out. I tried not to grumble, thanked him and hung up.

So, we clean our kitchen, scrub out the oven, slosh boiling water on our counters and haul boxes of Passover-specific pots and dishes. And worry about our allergy-friendly products, many of which are too far off the beaten path for proper Passover rabbinic supervision, or approval. Do we keep them or do without? I suspect I know which way we'll lean on it this year - after all, I do love a challenge.

And I'm fascinated to see that for all of our efforts, it's the eating Sephardi-style that will be the barrier to our community during the holiday. Because most of them are eating Ashkenazi-style during Pesach...the poor, food-deprived things.

But then again, perhaps turn about is fair play?

1 comment:

Auntie A said...

Yup, Pesach is a good time to be sefardi (or at least to eat sefardi-style). Good luck with the prep! I hope we will connect before the chag, especially since I have exciting news...