Traditional Foods for Passover
Passover, a traditional holiday that is celebrated by Jews, and some Christians. It is one of the three pilgrim festivals in which the entire Jewish population made a historic journey to the temple in Jerusalem. Passover celebrates the freedom from the slavery, held by an Egyptian pharaoh, over the Jews, also called the Exodus. In the year 2012, Passover will be celebrated beginning at sunset of April sixth and ending on the nightfall of April’s thirteenth and fourteenth day.
It is said that their God, to convince the Pharaoh of his power, sent ten plagues to Egypt. The slaughter of the first born, was the last plague performed by their God. The God commanded that his followers, the Israelites, to paint the blood of a spring lamb upon their door. The blood would ensure the spirit of their Lord, would pass over them, and their children would be unharmed. In result, the Pharaoh would set the Jews free. This is the purpose of Passover.
In nearly all Jewish families, it is traditional to gather on the first night of Passover for Seder. The nicest plates, glassware, flatware and table dressings are set. In accordance with the Torah; most families save their best meal ware for use during Passover. This reflects just how important this meal is. During the Passover Seder, a special text called the Haggadah is used for the retelling of the Exodus. The meal is a religious service unto itself, and its order of service is divided into 15 parts, which explained in Wikipedia, in their Passover article, represents the 15 steps of the Temple of Jerusalem. This is where Levites stood during services. The 15 Psalms memorializes this.
Within this procedure, many traditional foods are served. Each food, when, how it is served and eaten is for a reason, defined by tradition and through the Torah.
Maror, refers to the passage from Exodus 12:8: “with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” The herb which could be endive, horseradish, romaine lettuce, green onions, or even parsley, symbolizes the bitterness which is slavery. The maror is first blessed, then dipped into charoset, which symbolizes the mortar that the Israelites used for building. After the excess charoset is shaken off, it is eaten. There is a prescribed minimum of the herb that must be eaten, as well as the amount of time that it takes for it to be consumed.
There is a requirement that four cups of wine must be drunk during Seder, for both men and women. It is said that “even the poorest man in Israel has an obligation to drink.”
*The Kiddush is recited, and the first cup of wine is had. This is beginning of fifteen step Seder meal.
*The Passover story is told, the “Four Questions” are asked, and the second cup of wine is consumed. This is step number five.
*step thirteen includes an after-meal blessing includes and the third cup of wine.
*Finally, step fourteen. The Hallel is recited, and the drinking of the fourth cup of wine commences.
During the eight days of Passover, the house must be free of everything that is leavened as well as any leavening products. This non-exclusive list includes: yeast, baking soda, and baking powder. The exclusion of leavening during Passover symbolizes the haste in which the Hebrews left Egypt. They left in such a hurry, that there was not any time to let their bread rise before they took it with them.
The traditional bread eaten during passover is Matzo, sometimes called Lechem Oni or poor man’s bread. It is an unleavened bread. Matzo is made from only flour and water. It is mixed throughout its baking process, which keeps the bread from rising. Most Matzo is made by machine now. Matzo is what you would typically find in your local supermarket, and is used throughout the Seder as well as the days that follow within the festival’s span.
In Orthodox Jewish communities, they choose to use shmura matzo, or guarded matzo. Guarded matzo is traditionally made by the men. They gather in groups and bake the bread used during Seder. It is called guarded matzo because the wheat that it is made from is guarded from contamination by chametz (leavening) from the time of its harvest to the time that it is baked into the matzos. This can be from between five to ten months after the harvest.
During the eight days of the Passover festival, different foods are consumed. Some of these include:
*matzah brei – a softened matzo fried with egg and fat. It can be served either sweet or savory.
*matzo kugel – a kugel made with matzo instead of noodles.
*Gefilte fish – poached fish patties or balls. This is made from a mixture of deboned fish, usually carp, and sometimes pike.
*matzah ball soup – A basic chicken soup with dumplings made from ground matzo, called matzo meal. You may also find carrot rounds within the soup.
For more a more complete list of traditional foods, as well as information regarding Passover, I refer you to the Chabad.org website. They also have recipes if you would like to try them in your own home.
1. Passover Seder Plate
2. The Cookie Diet Review
3. Passover Recipes – Kosher Recipes & Cooking – Chabad.org