The matzoh arrived yesterday morning in an express post parcel. I dug out the candlesticks and spent the afternoon collecting all the other ingredients for my first attempt at a Passover dinner. The gorgeous old book outlining the order of the table setting and service, printed in 1862 and with family signatures dated 1920 and 1940, seemed to really apply the ancestral pressure.
Was I taking on too much, given that I’d only celebrated three or four Pesachs before in my life?
I tried my hand at Hebrew script to create a Seder plate, and accidentally wrote the same word twice because it is so unfamiliar. In reducing the quantity of the recipes, and due to my inexperience, I made some “idiosyncratic” versions of some of the foods… And none of it was ready in time to feed to the children, so they had a quirky meal to suit the theme, which included matzoh, hommus and a juicy pickle.
After all that preparation, we sat down to begin our meal and spilled the wine all over the Seder plate. I’d neglected a key element from it anyway. My matzoh balls were hard, and my chicken broth was way too salty. The gelfilte fish simply didn’t resemble gefilte fish.*
I was beginning to feel like I’d screwed it all up.
But then my sweetheart thanked me for the effort and said he could easily read my Hebrew. There are many different thoughts about how to lay out the Seder plate, apparently, and don’t I know the saying about two Jewish people, three opinions?
He reassured me that I’m supposed to make the recipes my own. “Everyone makes it differently, and everyone likes their mum’s matzoh balls the best.”
We noted the stains all over the pages of the Haggadah, the old Passover guide book, and I relaxed knowing that even the ancestors weren’t perfect.
*gefilte fish doesn’t really resemble fish, I reckon… 😉