So, keeping in mind that I dropped out of Brandeis Sunday School in fourth grade, I decided that it was time to Jew my kid up a little. After all, he’s four, and he was baptized, and he peppers his Nana with all kinds of Catholic-related queries, but I wanted him to learn a little bit about my side of the family. So this year I held my first attempt at what I like to think of as a Slob Seder—quick, chaotic, but well-intended.
Now, I know that during Passover, anything even remotely leavened is not supposed to be in the house, and everything is supposed to be Kosher for Passover. Since I decided to do this maybe ten days before the fact, plus, I am slightly morally lazy, I settled for cleaning the house and not having anything overtly leavened (which would be a good name for a pretentious college band) during dinner.
Well, except for one thing: my kid has an egg allergy and hates what we refer to in common parlance as “food.” He subsists on carbs, and when I handed him a matzo he looked like I had handed him someone’s spleen. So he had a biscuit and a Danimals while Nana, my husband, and I had this feast.
I roasted a chicken, which normally I do quite well, but I was rattled. See, Joy of Cooking says to make your oven 450 degrees and then the minute you put the chicken in, turn the oven down to 350. Princess forgot to do that. So the chicken was a mite dry. Okay, it was like my grandmother's balsa wood chicken. But I still made a fine gravy with very cheap white wine, lemon, and chicken juices.
I also made matzo balls from the fantastic New York Cookbook which came out, well, like matzo balls, and put them in frozen homemade chicken soup that my husband had made a month earlier. Since the chicken soup came from a chicken roasted with lemon and thyme, that was a pretty swell batch of soup.
The charoset was a snap...Manischewitz, walnuts, random apples, cinnamon, ginger. I did not realize that Manischewitz is only $3.99. How come I never see bums drinking it, then? Are there no old school Jewish bums anymore? I digress.
So we had a ten minute seder because my son kept on looking at me plaintively, asking if he could go. He memorized the first of the four questions in Hebrew, and then I did the rest. But I suck because I forgot most of them, and I wrote the phonetic translation on my Haggadah like crib notes, so I could pretend I had Jew street cred.
The only sticky part was the whole Plagues thing. See, as a kid, I remember the plagues being this festive interlude during the meal because 1. you got to dribble bright red wine on someone's nice tablecloth and 2. the plagues were lurid and creepy. But when you're four, perhaps learning that God decided it would be a swell idea to kill a bunch of first-born children might be a little much. Princess don't go for that senseless violence, you know. I said, coughing, that He, uh, roughed up the first-born and then said, "Hey, how about watching 14 episodes of Adventure Time?" Now that's parenting.
The real point of this post is the dessert. I made Simone Beck's Passover Chocolate Cake because it is the only dessert that is kosher and un-chometz and all that jazz that actually tastes good, largely because the glaze consists of butter, bittersweet chocolate, and coffee, three of my favorite things. Regard the wonder:
The cake is basically an afterthought. I mean, it's good-- not too sweet, moist, doesn't feel like an anvil in your stomach-- but the glaze is where all the action is. I could develop a deep and meaningful relationship with that glaze.
Arid chicken notwithstanding, the seder was pretty good. Most important, my kid is learning about both sides of the family, sorta-Catholic and somewhat Jewish-- hopefully, he'll be really confused by the time we're done with him. But that's okay. Like cooking, like parenting, it's all made up as we go along anyway, right?