I have long been interested and intrigued with Passover, since it is a holiday where food plays a strong role. However, I’ve never participated in a Passover celebration or Seder. This year I was extremely fortunate to be invited to Eviatar and Yael Zerubavel’s Passover Seder, and I had a wonderful time. I have a number of photos, which I will post both here and on my Flickr stream. I have a short, silly video, and I even recorded portions of the songs we sung around the table! I haven’t fully decided on how to best assemble them and make them available to everyone who participated, but I’ll be working on that project slowly over the next week or so. In the mean time, I’ll be uploading some of my photos, observations, and thoughts here.
The Gefilte Fish
Eating gefilte fish was another first for me. Certainly, I had heard of it, and I knew that it frequently elicited feelings of comfort or disgust. Some friends talked about it nostalgically, with fondness, like some people talk about meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Other friends made horrible faces, nearly spitting when recalling their experiences with it. I was glad to try it, and I will definitely eat it again.
Gefilte fish is a mixture of ground fish (frequently carp and pike) and “filler.” It’s helpful to think of gefilte fish like crab cakes, salmon patties, or the Thai tod mun. In the case of gefilte fish, the filler is often matzoh meal, onions and carrots. The patties are frequently poached instead of sauteed or fried.
There are easily accessible resources better than me if you’re interested in the history and cultural significance of gifilte fish. Try:
- Slashfood on the joys of gefilte fish
- Jewish Heritage Online Magazine on gefilte fish and the Jews
- J Weekly on gefilte fish and the story of ancestry
- Something Jewish on the gefilte story
You might also be interested in a quick video of Abbie Hoffman making gefilte fish. I was surprised to stumble across this!
There were at least three vegetarian guests at the Seder, so Eviatar tried a new recipe intended to “evoke” the gefilte fish. “Evoke” is the important distinction; the vegetarian option was not intended to be a substitute for gefilte fish. I think he was very wise to make such a distinction, and he was very thoughtful in providing a delicious vegetarian option.
As you can see, the cucumbers were peeled, halved vertically, hollowed, and then stuffed with a mushroom mixture. Unfortunately, I do not know what Eviatar included in the stuffing, but I will see if I can get the recipe.
One serving portion was half a cucumber – the size you see in this picture. It was really delicious. There was a nice contrast between the savory stuffing and the cool, crisp “shell.” I will be eager to add this recipe to my collection. When I serve the dish it will always remind me of the wonderful time I had at my first Passover Seder.
I’ll be writing a few more Passover-related posts, and I already have the title of my next entry: We’re all Wallers! Making charoset, the mortar.