“Ma,” my son said, “Hannah needs to bring a bag of cleaned parsley for her Sunday school’s model Passover Seder.” Hannah is our granddaughter, and Jerry and I were in Arizona visiting with her and our son, David.
The Seder is a symbolic meal celebrated by Jewish people to retell the story of the Jews’ exodus from slavery and Egypt. At Hannah’s Sunday school the teachers were going to conduct a model Seder to give the kids a feel for the larger scale Seder that would take place in their homes on Passover. Symbolic items on the Seder Plate are used as props to tell the Passover Story. A Seder plate includes: hard-boiled egg, salt water, matzoh, lamb shank, charoseth (a yummy mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine), horseradish (bitter herb), and the aforementioned parsley.
A home Passover meal is a BIG meal with many courses, and it takes a whole lot of preparation. Here are some sample foods I have served at various Seders given by Jerome and me over the years. First we put out the Seder plate as described above. Everybody loves my charoseth on their matzoh.
Then it’s time for some serious eating and the first courses: gefilte fish with horseradish; chicken soup with matzoh balls
Then, the main meal: a chicken dish which changes every couple of years; matzoh stuffing; brisket with red wine and tomato paste; potato kugel (casserole with eggs, potato, onions, matzoh); tsimmes(casserole with carrots and/or sweet potatoes, raisins/prunes; brown sugar); green vegetable such as asparagus or brussel sprouts.
And lastly, desserts: an apple matzoh kugel; brandied peach compote cake (see epicurious.com); chocolate covered matzoh, assorted macaroons.
We have served from 6 to 26 friends and relatives and I cook everything myself…from scratch (except the gefilte fish, matzoh, and macaroons).
No one has complained because they all keep coming back; so I think I’m a reasonably proficient cook. Also, fyi, I do Thanksgiving every year for the same gang plus about 15 more folks. Everyone says I make it look easy.
I’m confident about my food preparation—until my granddaughter needs to bring parsley— TO SCHOOL—then I go crazy!
I ask myself:
- Should the parsley be the good kind (Italian flat leaf) or should we buy the curly parsley like my mother used? Maybe the curly parsley is the authentic Jewish parsley?
- Should I trim the long stems off the parsley? If so, how much? Is the parsley on the Seder plate supposed to have stems, or is it just the leaves?
- Do I send a whole bunch so each little kid can get a sprig? Or should I just send a sprig for the Seder plate?
- When should I wash the parsley? The night before? The morning of?
- If I wash the parsley, and I wipe it with paper towel, should I put the moist paper towel in with the parsley in the plastic bag overnight?
- The next morning when Hannah takes her zip lock bag of parsley to Sunday school, should I leave the damp paper towel in the bag? Or does that look sloppy? Should I re-wrap the parsley with a dry paper towel? Should I just put parsley without paper towel in the bag?
- Lastly, should I put the zip lock bag inside another little plastic bag?
Surely, I can’t be the only parent/grandparent who worries about this stuff? Am I?