“People who don’t live in New York City need to understand that shopping here is a lot like foraging for dinner in the woods, except instead of getting eaten by a bear you risk getting hit by a cab.” – Kim Severson
Passover is a holiday intrinsically connected to food. In addition to eliminating all leavening from our diets, we add in some seemingly strange things. Gefilte fish, chopped liver, gel shaped like citrus fruit – these are all items that appear on shelves in early April for our consumption during this week. (In thinking about it this week, I really can’t figure out why I’m terrified of the fish balls that come in some ramen and yet eat gefilte fish without a second thought. They are, conceptually, equally gross.)
Shopping for these things, though, brings me much grief each year. This year, after returning from the seder I attended out of town, I went to the Fairway on 74th Street in order to stock up on some Passover essentials. I’m not sure what it is about this week, but it elicits this extreme feeling that my entire diet must change and that I can’t eat normal food. (Let’s forget, for a minute, that the majority of my diet is, in fact, Passover-friendly.) Somehow, when Passover shopping, you stand in the middle of a grocery store with the distinct feeling that the world is out to get you and that if you don’t purchase that cannister of toffee crunch macaroons, everything is going to fall apart. And if that grandma gets there first? Well, a) that is not going to happen and b) I WILL CUT HER if she gets the last box of Streit’s.
I don’t need a cannister of toffee crunch macaroons, nor do I need fruit gel slices, unimaginable amounts of gefilte fish, or kosher for Passover (“K for P”) farfel stuffing. And yet, I am moved to purchase these things either out of complete sensory deprivation or an unnecessary desire to act more religious than I actually am. Never mind the fact that it’s pretty likely that I could easily concoct a K for P meal out of what’s already in my kitchen (in fact, I just did it right now – quinoa cooked in chicken broth, chicken, dried cranberries, chopped scallions, WHAT UP) or that any number of normal people live a gluten-free life every day. For me, and for this week, all reason goes out the window, and it seems like a good idea to buy ground-up matzah in a jar.
Is there another food that goes from awesome to terrible so quickly than matzah brei? I say no.