Passover cooking: Start with the staples, then get creative

Easter is easy when it comes to food. You know what to expect­­: spring vegetables, colored Easter eggs, and a dinner ham (although I’ve been told by a few gastronomic subversive Christians I know that Easter is about the lamb of God, not the ham of God).Passover is a different story. The festival, which began Monday night, is an eight-day Jewish holiday of freedom recalling the Hebrews’ flight from slavery in Egypt, 3,000 years ago. At the beginning is a ritual meal called a Seder.What makes this holiday different from all others are the dietary restrictions. During the entire eight days, Jews must avoid chametz: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, or oats. Continue Reading

The exaltation of the knaidel

Easter and Passover occurred on the same weekend this year, resulting in the first spate of national overeating since Christmas and Chanukah coincided last December. There’s not a lot of crossover between what foods are eaten by whom, however — no ham on the Passover table, for example, and no matzohs for Easter. Some tolerant, secular foods appear on the festive tables of both Christians and Jews, such as eggs, potatoes, lamb, and chocolate. Well, not “such as” — that’s it, really. Maybe salad. Continue Reading