There are so many ways to express yourself. Food is definitely one of them. And enjoying other people’s food is just as incredible as enjoying your own. I realized this on my recent trip to New York. I spent two Passover seder’s at two different couples’ homes, and I did not have to cook for either of them. Wow, it was such a different feeling! It was so nice!
The first seder, to me, was about the order of events, following the haggadah, catching up with family and a close friend who joined us, as well, and the amazing hospitality and beautifully-set table that my sister and brother-in-law provided. It was about learning, and it was about my cousin Judy who is a well of knowledge about all things, Judaic and non. Learning that chametz stems from the word hamutz, or sour in hebrew. Chametz is the term for food that is not “kosher for passover.” That the souring and therefore forbiden-ness of chametz foods on passover has to do with flour and water mixing, and then acquiring a sourness during the leavening period (as those who make sour dough or wild yeast starters know, the souring and the leavening happen hand-in-hand…it is the process of gathering yeast from the environment and of fermentation). We cannot eat leavened food, hamutz food, chametz food, on passover because our ancestors did not have time to wait for their bread to rise before leaving Egypt, god-forbid Pharaoh changed his mind (as he did). Hence…matzoh, the flat cracker-like bread that is watched by rabbis to be sure it never rises, not even while baking, not even a little.
The second seder was different. It was about sharing good news, about looking at Marla and Brian’s (our hosts) indoor greenhouse where beets and peas and other things were sprouting beneath a lamp tented with tinfoil. Like an underground hoop house. It was about the two kids at the table, running around and disappearing and participating and not participating in the seder, meaning order, the name we use for our meal and the rituals surrounding it, on Passover. It was about the deeeee-licious food that Marla makes and Brian, the sous-chef of the household, contributes to. It was about the, mmm, lick-my-lips-and-my-fingers-good prime rib. It was the fact that Marla bought the meat from a butcher that buys and butchers whole animals from a local farm. It was about my deep hunger for red meat, I discovered while gnawing the bone, and the fact that the meat was from people who cared about it throughout its whole entire life, and beyond. It was the fact that I got to eat the bone piece, with all that fat and meat, and the bone to hold on to, no for or knife necessary! It was about Tina’s soup, and the recipe she shared with me, no cubes of bouillon necessary but all the flavor just the same. It was about the two kinds of macaroons that graced the table, one made by Marla, the other by Brian, because some chef on TV shared a recipe that was too good to pass up even though Marla and Brian’s old macaroon recipe is pretty delectable, too. It was the walk we took to the beach and back in Fairfield CT, between dinner and dessert because we were so full we had to make room in our tummies. And how little Brayden asked what Elijah looks like, the do-gooder in the world who we welcome, fantastically, into our homes on Passover, symbolizing the generosity of inviting all those who are hungry.
This post is dedicated to the pleasure of letting others provide, for me. To being a recipient, a participant, and not the center of the show. THANK YOU!!!