If you live in certain areas of the country, you may have noticed that Pick n Pay Hypermarkets, in some areas, have aisles set aside with really odd foodstuffs that have ridiculous prices! This is the beginning of the madness called Pesach or Passover.
Pesach is a Jewish festival lasting 7 days in Israel and 8 days in the rest of the world. For non-Jews, this is recognisable by the boxes of Matzos on the shelves.
The Jewish holiday is a remembrance of the years of slavery, the 10 plagues and the exodus from Egypt in the time of Moses and Pharaoh. The Israelite nation had to leave Egypt in such a hurry that the dough the women were preparing did not have time to rise into loaves of bread. Since then Jews are forbidden to eat any leavened bread during Pesach. The stringency is so exact that observant Jews change everything in their entire kitchen for those 8 days.
The first 2 nights of this Jewish holiday find families sitting together for the Seder (festival dinner). There is a special order to the way the meal is eaten as well as food to represent those different aspects of that time in Egypt.
The focal points of the Seder are:
- Eating matzah.
- Eating bitter herbs—to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites.
- Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom.
- The recitation of the Haggadah which is a book that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfilment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.
A different set of crockery and cutlery is used during this time, matzo is eaten instead of bread and no products containing flour are allowed to be eaten or brought into your house!
Unusual foods are eaten at this time such as, Danish herring, matzo balls in chicken soup, horseradish and minced fish (gefilte fish), chopped herring, hardboiled eggs in warm salt water (delicious!) and much more. here are links to my recipes.
The traditional greeting at this time is either Chag Sameach or Chag Kosher L’Pesach. If you are celebrating Pesach, I wish you Chag Sameach.