Almost every holiday has its cuisine. Memorial Day and/or July 4th have the BBQ weekend, Halloween has sweets, Hanukkah has potato pancakes, New Years has champagne, Valentine’s Day has chocolates, and Thanksgiving is, of course, a no-brainer.
Passover is the holiday in which Jews remember the years of bondage in Egypt, the plagues, Moses, the Pharaoh, and then finally being freed from the slavery. The story of Exodus, often re-told by an annual showing of the classic Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments, will live on as the holiday starts again this Monday night.
The food of Passover is characterized by not eating leavened breads, since, as the story goes, the Jews didn’t have time to let the bread rise as they were in a hurry to leave when finally free from slavery. Hence, Matzah (unleavened flat bread) is a food most commonly found at the stores around this time of year to symbolize the holiday.
Americans may look at Passover food with a similar stigma as Vegan food—meaning, you tend to be surprised when it tastes good. Just like anything else, it all depends on the cook. While vegan foods are difficult in getting decent textures and flavors since there cannot be any dairy products, Passover food can be tricky since there can be no yeast (or leavening) in the bread. Speaking of vegan, the foods at a Passover dinner tend to be vegan since Kosher rules prohibit the mixing of dairy and meat—which means there is no dairy to be found, assuming there is meat served that night.
Check out Paula Shoyer’s blog, KosherBaker.blogspot.com, which she started about three years ago. It begat the cookbook she published last summer, called “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-Free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” (Brandeis).
At the site, you can find the “top ten Passover survival tips” which is great information for being able to successfully eat well without consuming the forbidden foods. Also, you’ll find recipes that may prove to be new favorites, including desserts such as a chocolate almond cake. That particular recipe is below.
The next time you think of Passover as just another holiday with funky foods, try a different recipe, a different type of food, or attend someone else’s dinner for a change. You