In celebration of Passover, we invited our staff to share a favorite food, recipe, or fond memory of a Pesach Seder.
The celebration is usually a time for families to come together:
“What I remember most about Passover when I was a child is how many people were at our Seder. My grandfather was one of eleven children. All eleven siblings were married and had children and grandchildren, and almost everyone lived in the New York Metropolitan area and came to the Passover Seder each year. It was too many people to fit in anyone’s home, so the family would rent a room in a hall in Great Neck each year. I remember going early to help set the tables. There were so many kids! It was always so much fun playing with all my cousins, but there was a lot of competition when it came to searching for the Affikomen!”
-Laurel Scheinfeld, Librarian, Bay Shore
“[I remember] sitting next to my father on the “hessa bet” as a child for the seder, following along in my children’s haggadah. As you are supposed to recline, this “hessa bet” was a fold-up cot with a cushy mattress that we placed against the wall instead of chairs to recline like kings (and fall asleep!). The root of “hessa” comes from “hesaiba”, Hebrew for recline, and “bet” is bed. We three sisters, and later four when my youngest sister was born, would fight for places on the bed next to my father so we could steal the Afikoman from behind his pillow and curl up next to him to hear the story of the Exodus.”
-Toby Krausz, Librarian, Midtown
The food is also an important part of the Passover celebration that is both symbolic and delicious. Librarian David Levy reminds us of the eight symbolic foods of the Seder:
- Vegetables (Karpas)
- Shank bone (Zeroa)
- Hard Boiled Egg (Baytzah)
- Bitter Herbs (Maror)
- Bitter Vegetable (Hazeret)
- Wine (Yayin)
In fact, Charoset is a favorite dish of Librarian Carrie Levinson, who explains:
Charoset is one of the foods eaten at the Seder (and is one of my favorite Passover foods). It’s a mixture of apples, wine, cinnamon, and walnuts that represents the mortar that enslaved Israelites used to build structures with in Ancient Egypt. It is consumed with bitter herbs, another symbolic food.
Apples are food that feature heavily in the memories and recipes of our staff. Library Assistant Rita Hilu offered to share a family secret! This is a recipe from her grandmother, which traveled with her from Vilna, Lituania to Argentina in 1929, and now on to you:
- 2 ground green apples
- 2 cups of matzo meal
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- Mix ingredients with boiling water to combine.
- Fry in deep and very hot oil.
- Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bon appetite!
Librarian Toby Krausz offered up another delicious apple recipe:
The apple kugel my aunt and mother made remains my favorite Pesach food to this day. They collaborated on the recipe and came up with sheer caramelized apple-y goodness. It’s heaven.
- 9 large fresh apples, julienned
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup potato starch
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
- Transfer to 2-3 large round pans. Bake at 350° for 90 minutes or until caramelized on top.
Best wishes for an enjoyable (and delicious!) Passover. What are your favorite traditions? Feel free to leave your memories or recipes in the comments.