Passover, the celebration of the Jews’ historic flight from Egypt, begins at sundown Monday. As they fled the land of the Pharaoh, there was no time to let the bread rise and thus, the unleavened flatbread, matzo, is symbolic for this holiday. At the Seder meals, Monday and Tuesday evenings, matzo is served by itself, hidden in the room as part of a children’s game, discussed and included in prayer and song.
Matzo is also eaten in many different ways, in many different dishes. Check out the aisles that are loaded with traditional Passover food at the store this time of year, and you’ll find matzo meal, several kinds of matzo and matzo farfel (broken up matzo for including in rich casseroles and other dishes).
Seder meals are part of a greater Passover service that can take hours, includes children and encourages the symbolic, and altogether enjoyable, sipping of wine. As the mood turns festive, the meal is rich with remembrance, faith, history, food and family participation in singing and games.
Menus, as well as recipes, are passed down for generations. While younger cooks will introduce more adventurous dishes, certain traditions are demanded. My late mother-in-law was famous for her baked chicken, amazing matzoh ball soup and the chopped chicken liver. Had any of these been left off the menu, there would have been a loud outcry.
A happy Passover to all who celebrate. And, here are recipes from our files as well as new ones for a Vegetarian Chopped Liver, an Egg-Rich Onion Kugel, and a delicious version of the apple-and-honey Haroset, that includes a spicy hint of fresh ginger.