Saturday, April 11, 2009

Passover Seder: 9 Things That Made Me Smile

Happy Saturday! It's truly an April day. Rain pitter-patters on the cement, coffee nestles in my belly, and my couch welcomes my tired body. After all, making a Passover seder for 22 people took quite a bit out of me this week! But it was well worth it. On my fourth annual seder -- and by far my favorite -- here are 9 things that made me smile:

  1. Cooking. In the past year, I've really learned to love cooking. I took the day off from work on Wednesday to prepare, and I loved every second of it. Music and flavors swirled around my kitchen while I tasted each recipe: Cranberry Brisket, Apricot Chicken, Pineapple Kugel, Blood Orange Salad, Roasted Asparagus, Raisin-Nut Quinoa, Matzah Ball Soup. Maybe homemakers really do have it made?!

  2. Flowers. My boyfriend Mark and best friend Laura both brought gorgeous bouquets of lilacs, sunflowers, and carnations. Passover is a "harvest holidays" in which we thank the land for being plentiful and enjoy seasonal spring foods, so flowers represent that.

  3. Brisket. My dad searched every supermarket in Long Island to find the perfect brisket of beef for me. Even though we celebrated at separate seders, his gift made him present at my table.

  4. Forgetfulness. As my non-Jewish friends read aloud the story of Passover, they looked at me accusingly when they got to portions I'd forgotten to do. In response, I scurried around my kitchen to enact what they read, including dipping parsley into salt water (and taking a bite - yuck!), displaying the seder plate (which was missing half the ingredients), and pouring a glass of wine for Elijah.

  5. Jordan. My brother's always the last to show up, but the one who brings the biggest smile to my face. I was so happy to have him meet my friends and experience his first seder with me as the host.

  6. Jude. My friends Matthew & Melissa brought their precious 4-week-old son to celebrate his first Passover seder in my home.

  7. Bing-O. Last year, my crafty friend Sarah designed "Seder Bingo," a Bingo board with images that relate to Passover -- especially focused on the 10 plagues (in the Passover story, God used plagues like hail and famine to convince the Egyptians to free the Jewish slaves). Just imagine how many laughs circulated my living room while Sam the Bingo caller hollered out, "Boils! Does anyone have boils?"

  8. Dayenu. Since most of the crew has attended the past 3 seders, some of them know the songs better than I do. In the middle of Bingo, my friend Gennaro lead the crowd in a round of "Dayenu," a popular Hebrew song for Passover.

  9. Mensches. That's Yiddish for "people of noble character." Here, I mean it to describe my kitchen assistants. Jamie, my only Jewish friend at the seder, made delicious macaroons (coconut cookies) and charoset (a combo of apples, walnuts, red wine, and cinnamon) and cut her finger in the process (sorry Jamie!). Colin cut blood oranges for the salad (and did not cut himself). Matt sliced the brisket to perfection. Melissa brought to-die-for chocolate-covered strawberries. Mark made an amazing quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) dish. Sarah helped make the matzah ball soup. Gloria told me the apricot chicken was made out of sunshine. Jes played camera-lady and took amazing pics (especially of the asparagus!). Laura helped me time everything. Everyone brought delish bottles of wine (and we made it through 10 bottles). A seder really is about bringing people together, and I fell asleep thinking of all the people in my life for which I'm thankful and blessed.

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