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Stay-at-Home Front

Day 20: Food for thought

I wish I didn’t have to mark Passover in the number of eggs cracked, onions sliced or chicken made.

Classic Passover candy. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
Classic Passover candy. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
Carin M. Smilk
Carin M. Smilk
Carin M. Smilk is managing editor of the U.S. bureau of JNS.

All I can think of is food. Not eating food, but organizing, buying, mixing, making, cooking and serving it.

Since the start of Passover, and even days beforehand, my head has been swimming with daily menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a family of six. You probably think, what’s the big deal? After all, I normally make our meals—well, dinners, at least.

But the oldest is supposed to be at college and has a wealth of choices at his disposal. The teenager gets fantastic lunches at his high school, and the younger two are also well-fed at their elementary school. My husband is the one who gets them up and going, giving them breakfast before they take their respective forms of transportation somewhere else for the next eight hours.

And, of course, he buys or brings his own lunch.

These days, however, everyone is at home all the time—for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between.

Take away all the leaven, and now you’ve got a challenge.

Anything packaged for Passover tends to be painfully small. The potato-pancake mix serves six. It’s one macaroon per person. A single slice of cheese in the double-cellophane-wrapped sleeve. Each family member gets a dark-chocolate-covered mint, and then we split the other four.

Needless to say, folks are hungry around here. They manage throughout the day, but by 7 p.m., all five men are ready to chow down. And that’s where I come in, making feasts every night for eight nights, then doing the dishes involved in all those feasts, from soup to nuts.

This year, Passover foods were harder to get. I did a major shopping just once and then made due with an organic store, where I bought organic matzah, sardines, mackerel, tuna, horseradish, condiments and the most beautiful box of sliced-fruit jelly candies by a company called Rebecca & Rose. The products were so much better-tasting! And those jellies are (were) good enough to savor any day of the week.

I wish I didn’t have to mark Passover in the number of eggs cracked, onions sliced or chicken made. And yet, there’s something so special to feeding a family nearly everything from scratch, always with a new recipe to add to the mix of traditional ones that go back aunts, cousins and grandmothers.

We feel even more grateful this season to have such food as the coronavirus still rages on, changing everyone’s spring holidays and traditions.

And when Passover has indeed passed over and everything put back into place on Friday morning, after we’ve all had a gut-filling bagel with a solid cream-cheese schmear, I can take a deep breath, look around the kitchen …

… and start cooking for Shabbat.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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