Why is This Night Different From All Others
Ok, those of you who read a Haggadah and re-tell the Passover Story will recognize the title from one of the Four Questions. But I am thinking of something else as I prepare for this important and meaningful holiday.
This year, not only will the night be different as it is our first holiday in a temporary rental home, and we will be using makeshift dishes etc because all of the crystal and china are still packed up, but even the preparations are reminding me that this year it is very different.
I am cooking all of my Gram’s wonderful recipes (and read this blog to read more about her and how I luckily inherited her cooking genetics and talent) and I get such pleasure from carrying on these traditions and keeping her memory alive. I was very close to her and watched her cook for many years. When I was an adult, she shared all of her secrets with me, even though they weren’t in written form.
Yet, I am cooking in a foreign kitchen, only partially unpacked with my kitchen gadgets and contents. Just as one example, I am using paper plates as my cutting board this year as I have not yet located and unpacked those. For another, I will be hand-chopping my apples for Charoset this year, a first, as my handy chopper is also packed somewhere.
It’s not that bad though, and I am enjoying the cooking. There is a smile on my face, a hunger for these foods in my belly, the memory of the same odors in the kitchen as far back as I can remember.
Just as one example, when Gram got up in years and couldn’t scrape fish anymore for homemade Gefilte fish, she found a way to re-create that homemade taste. I share the recipe for anyone who wants it.
As another example, Gram made a very sweet chicken soup with soft and fluffy matzoh balls. I cannot stand hard ones because this is how I grew up. Gram shared with me, and my Aunt Doris reinforced the information on how to get the sweetest chicken soup possible.
The soup is so good, and the chicken that emerges from it so sweet, that I enjoy making Chicken in a Pot on the days after (the boiled chicken and veggies in a bit of broth) and I also enjoy making Gram’s special recipe for Chicken Salad from soup chicken – the most tender and tasty chicken salad ever.
I sometimes grumble that the week it takes me to make all the courses and make all the dishes for this special holiday is a lot of work, but as I reflect on it this year, (and in past years) I am grateful and happy to do it.
Speaking of gratitude, as we made our personal Exodus from Meyerland and our demolished home due to floods, I am glad that we were Passed Over (Passover) from another flood event that just occurred in Houston back in that area, and more severely in many other areas of Houston. (3000 square miles) Since much of our life is still in boxes in our rental garage, I am thankful that floods and water came nowhere near us. (And still sad at the same time for those who suffered as I know what they are going through.)
Have a wonderful holiday everyone, and don’t forget – if there is no one to make this holiday special for you as in the past, make it special for yourself by doing it yourself. This has been my mantra since I moved to Houston many years ago.