Seder 5772 and Seder 5772, Part 2: EAT MORE have come and gone… the build-up built-up and taken-down and tucked-away with the trestle table and folding chairs until 5773.
All that’s left are the Brei Variations … Fried Matzah savoury, Fried Matzah sweet with jam or sugar or Fried Matzah spicy … and then, there are the Italianische abominations: Matzah Pizza, Matzah lasagna, Matzah calzone and Matzah cannoli…
Oh, why do Pessah-keepers insist on trying to replicate the most un-Pessah of all cuisines? Hubris? Longing for better culinary days? Impatience? (And does it really count as Pessah food if it is exactly like chametz in all things except taste? It’s a little like wearing a sheitel that glistens and cascades more lushly than your real hair, or covering your body from neck to wrists and ankles, but in a lycra blend that fits snugly in certain parts… are you really carrying yourself in a tzniusdik manner as dictated by the patriarchal rabbinic set or subverting the notion of tznius itself?)
Or you could resort to the more elaborately packaged, processed Pessah goods…
My sad realization (and dyspepsia) about all these feeble replication attempts, including the Kosher-le-Pessah bagels, rolls, buns, breakfast cereals and other gustatory atrocities is that, in their attempts to make the blow to the palate which is Pessah a bit softer, they are destroying the holiday in the process.
What makes Pessah special (or, at least, different) is its radically different eating. Think of a cuisine as consisting of “flavour principles”, specific combinations of ingredients and spices that, over the years, have come to define it. And then, think of what happens when you make radical substitutions… how would Mediterranean cooking taste if you find-and-replaced garlic with onion? or gebrokts garlic powder?
Or think of a food as a trigger of memory… though new memories will inevitably be forged by tasteless matzah-bite breakfasteeos, will they be good memories? (And is Tums chametz?)
In other words, just like globalization destroyed the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, the need for new Pessah product lines and new faux-chametz recipes has invariably transformed Pessah. But before one wags a finger at me, accusing me of nostalgia-peddling, it is undeniable that we lose something when we decontextualize food or chametize Pessah – and what we lose is more than just flavour.
We should get back to our roots of Pessah eating, avoiding the faux for the fresh. But, more importantly, the sad non-kitniyot eating Ashkenazim need a mimouna, something at the end of Pessah to look forward to… something big to help transition back into chametz with a little sadness at Pessah’s passing and a little yearning for Seder 5773…