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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passover Play-by-Play: Day 1

Passover is by far the most difficult holiday for me.  Although my family is not particularly religious, we try to observe this one holiday - no small feat in Savannah, GA where I shouldn't have to tell you there is a dearth of kosher items.  Why up the observance factor on this holiday vs. any other?  No clue.  I'm pretty sure my parents put the names of all Jewish holidays in a hat and picked this one.  The family that eats bacon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner suddenly goes totally kosher plus the extra mile for Passover (no bread, corn syrup, etc.).  I fully admit this is incredibly bizarre.

Now that I am on my own in New York, I have slackened the observance ropes a bit (again, I admit it's weird to do so now, considering I moved to a place where being Jewish is more normal and accepted).  I am a big girl now and get to make my own rules according to what makes sense to me.  That's called maturity.  For me, that means no bread products (nothing with flour) and I try to avoid those foods that are on the fence regarding what's acceptable (rice, corn/corn syrup, legumes).  On top of that, I follow those normal kosher rules that the good Jews do all year long (no pork, shellfish, or mixing of meat and dairy).  It feels bizarre to observe the Passover stuff but not the regular stuff - like I'm cheating - so I go for the full enchilada (which, incidentally, I can't eat during Passover).

Why do I torture myself like this for eight days?  Because it's torture.  You may have heard me joke that I am not the best Jewess around.  Well these eight days remind me that I am, in fact, Jewish and should be proud of it.  Do you realize how difficult observing like this is?!  It's not easy, but there are a few perks:

  1. Combined with exercise, I may lose weight.  This is the original Atkins diet, after all.
  2. It causes me to get super creative with my meals.
  3. I'll emerge with quite the sense of accomplishment.
I've decided to document my Passover meals to keep myself motivated and maybe give you Jewish readers some ideas for your own Passover meals.  So here we go:

I didn't bring lunch to work so I had to go out.  Salad is a good go-to during this holiday, so I went to Chop't, my favorite of all the salad restaurants due to their extensive topping and dressing selection.  I wanted cheese on my salad and a dairy dressing, so I gave up the meat and piled on the veggies.   It was delicious, as always, but the best part was that Chop't is apparently Jew-friendly and offered matzah instead of the usual flatbread wedge for those of us observing.  As if I needed another reason to go to Chop't, they won my full adoration by showing such consideration.  Thanks, buddy.

Dinner time.  I needed some protein tonight, so I picked up a flank steak.  This is usually where it gets tough for me.  I put cheese on everything and by picking steak, I knew there could be no dairy in sight.  Like I said, this holiday forces creativity.  I eventually came up with a meal so satisfying, I didn't even miss the cheese: flank steak topped with green olive tapenade, sauteed radishes and onions, and deviled eggs.  I cooked the steak with cayenne, paprika, and chile powder so it had a nice crust of smoky, peppery spice and topped with the salty tapenade just before serving.  This recipe will definitely survive post-Passover.  I didn't even know you could saute radishes until my Mom sent me a recipe.  It is definitely a good way to mix up the veggie game.  And finally, deviled eggs, which we all know are spectacular, especially mine.

Day one down, seven to go.

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