Passover In New York

New Recipes and Shopping Tips

Grinding Fresh Horseradish on the Lower East Side

Passover In New York

New Recipes and Shopping Tips

As a non-Jew who married into a Jewish family, I have my own answers to the Passover question, "why is this night different from all other nights?"  To begin with, the cook in me can't help but notice we're eating foods not served any other day of the year.  Like gefilte fish with beet horseradish.  Okay, so I don't love it and once a year is enough.

But I understand why for many, Passover is a favorite holiday.  It's loved for its messages of renewal and optimism and the chance to gather around a table with family and friends, to raise a glass and share a symbolic, satisfying meal. 

When you live in an ecumenical family and are an outsider to a faith, ritual or custom that others have practiced all their lives, you can bring a wider-eyed curiosity and self-consciousness to things that others know instinctively.  I particularly love how Passover foods are metaphors.  That there is sweetness and bitterness on the plate.  And in my family, like many others, I love the conflicts over whose recipes for traditional favorites (matzo balls, haroset, brisket) are the best.

It's risky to make suggestions for the traditional Seder meal because the definition of "traditional" varies greatly.  What is familiar to a family of Eastern European descent will be different than that of a Sephardic Jew from North Africa.  Some will serve roasted meats while others will not; some will have favorite dishes made with rice and artichokes while others must have beef brisket.  Two of the only foods that seem to be at every Passover dinner are matzo and haroset, but even these have multiple spellings -- matzoh/matza/matze or charoset/charoses.  We Irish Catholics don't have such variances, thanks to our imprimatur and nihil obstat (that's a little Latin joke). 

So absent childhood Seder memories and having no grandmother who suffered the arguments about whether or not to add sugar to the gefilte fish recipe, I can only make suggestions about buying groceries and cooking.

Passover Shopping and Cooking Tips


Finally, we always love to visit Alan Kaufman, one of The Pickle Guys, at his Essex Street shop on the Lower East Side.  Alan has spent his career making pickles and other traditional favorites of the many Jewish immigrants who once lived in the neighborhood.  We've got a podcast about pickles with Alan in our Media & Podcast section.  But when we went to do the recording, we found him out on the sidewalk, outside his garage-like, barrel-filled shop, getting ready to grind fresh horseradish for Passover -- an "only in New York" image we had to capture. 

Have a sweet Passover.

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HolidaysJewishPassoverDorian's Seafood MarketLobster Place, TheFish Tales GourmetKosher Marketplace, ThePomegranateChicken SoupArthur Schwartz

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