Sheeze, this is really belated! With relatives visiting from Japan we’ve been busy hosting and at the end of the day I’m too tired to do anything productive on here. I end up just surfing the internet, catching up on food blogs, and reading emails.
But back to the Passover dinner. This was interesting for me not only to meet relatives, but also to experience the annual traditional dinner. Motozo also was looking forward to it since the last time he was able to attend the dinner was around 10 years ago. He tried teaching me his relatives names before we arrived, but I told him I really need to see everyone’s faces and have it written down as a kind of family tree if he really wanted me to learn everyone’s names. Turned out to be the largest gathering to date with over 25 relatives traveling from different parts of the states. Most of the immediate family live in NY and New Jersey, but like most family gatherings, its hard to get everyone together so this was special.
Barbara, my father-in-laws older sister, always hosts the party and she’s an excellent host! Too bad I didn’t get a photo of her and her husband Bob. I actually didn’t take as many photos as I’d have liked (especially of the food) and its a real shame now.
We got a ride with Motozo’s cousin, Mitch and his family. Since they live in the city we usually get to see them the most frequently when we visit NY. We seem to have a routine of getting together for brunch and it’s always a joy to meet them.
When we arrived at Barbara’s everyone was either in the kitchen preparing dishes or in the living room munching on cheese, veggie sticks, and most importantly Matzah bread. Translated simply as unleavened bread.
Here’s a brief description of passover taken from a website.
Every year, Jewish families and friends pay tribute to their history by joining together for a Passover dinner called a “seder.” Prior to the seder, Jewish homes are spotlessly cleaned. All bread, and any other leavened food, are discarded. This act acknowledges the time when Jews, given a brief window of opportunity by the Pharaoh, made bread for the exodus, but couldn’t wait for it to rise. For this reason, the unleavened bread called matzah is served at the seder.
During the seder dinner, the Passover story is recounted from a book called the “Haggadah.” A special seder plate adorns the table and contains several food items. A lamb bone symbolizes the sacrificial lamb used to protect the Jewish homes from the plague. Bitter herbs, usually horseradish, is a reminder of the bitter life encountered by the slaves. Haroset, a mixture of apples, nuts, honey, wine, and cinnamon, resembles the clay used by the slaves in building the great cities. Parsley, and a roasted egg, stand for the spring season of Passover. And finally, a bowl of salt water, in which the greens are dipped, symbolizes the tears shed by the slaves.
Now on to some photos.
The tables were set up beautifully.
Aunt Ede, Leila, and Celia
Herb, Motozo, and cousin David.
Leila, Cousin Mitch’s daughter.
Leslie and David
Molly and Nancy
Fumiko and Herb
Before we can start the feast we read from this book “Haggadah”
I think traditionally the whole book is read, but we only choose bits and parts to read more out of. Maybe only 2-3 of the relatives are strict Jews who follow the traditions religiously, but everything sure did remind me of my childhood reading from a book that gives thanks to God. But this was far less serious and everyone was lightheartedly joking around while reading.
Some traditional eats.
On the bottom is the Matzah bread, the brown layer is “Haroset” chopped nuts, apples and wine (really delicious!) and the top red layer is “bitter herbs” horseradish and beets. I think I was supposed to put the radish on the bread before the haroset, but oh well.
There was also parsley dipped in salt water, eggs, and lamb bone as other symbolic eats. This is probably everyone’s favorite, Matzo ball soup which unfortunately I couldn’t eat because its made with chicken broth. Sorry the plate is really messy. This was Motozo’s 2nd serving since he enjoys it so much.
After the soup was lots of other foods. There were lots of traditional dishes and I’m so disappointed that I didn’t take a photo of the food table, but most of it was meat anyway. I was able to have a few veggie dishes that weren’t made with cheese,butter, or eggs.
Traditionally, there isn’t any dessert. Matzah bread is the last and only thing they eat for the rest of the day, but being that this family isn’t religious there was a huge dessert table. Lots of cakes, pies, cookies etc. I had fruit and tea.
Lots more talking and mingling after dinner.
I’m not really going into detail of everything mainly because I didn’t document it well, but it was a great experience. I’m not religious and thankfully neither is Motozo and being that I less than 1/4 of the food was vegan friendly, it really was more about socializing and getting to know everyone than anything else.
I was pretty hungry by the time we got back to our hotel so I dug into my vegan bars and went to bed satisfied 🙂
So happy Motozo and I were able to attend this year!