Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eating Memories

We all have an innate drive to maintain a connection with the past through objects or mementos. These objects serve as “witnesses” and help us invoke the event and feelings of the time.  I heard someone once describe mementos as “great literature”.

In that way food can also be a visceral reminder of emotions, important life events or people we love who may be gone from us. It is why a recipe for Grandma’s chicken or Auntie's pie is so important to enjoy on certain holidays and occasions.

The smells and tastes take us back. They serve as confirmation of that memory and keep it sharp and alive.

If our memory was traumatic, life altering or unique in some way, we are even more likely to covet and cling to the tastes, sounds, smells and objects of that time.  By not forgetting, we recognize the importance of that symbolic transformation in our life and its affect on our future.

This spring we celebrate two transformative holidays; Passover for Jews and Easter for Christians. Both are laden with prescribed familial traditions and foods. 

In my house there will be a (day early) Seder featuring the traditional foods and old recipes that I grew up with. I will share this meal with newer friends who are not Jewish and I am excited to add this coming dinner to my Passover memory bank.

I look forward to remembering that Bill asked for seconds on the matzo balls---that I made light and fluffy as he asked---or that Joey enjoyed the roast chicken that Nana used to make and that I had a big bowl of charoset on the table because son Stuart always loved lots of it.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover everyone! May your new memories be happy.

(haroset or charoses ( חֲרֽוֹסֶת [ḥărōset])

A mixture of apples, walnuts, cinnamon, sugar and sweet Passover wine. It is eaten to commemorate the mortar with which the Israelites used to cement bricks when they were enslaved in Egypt.

  • 2 Macintosh apples, cored, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup shelled walnuts
  • Cinnamon and sugar to taste
  • 1 jigger of Passover wine

Put every thing in a food processor and pulse until the mix is coarsely chopped. It should not be runny. The result is not too pretty but it is very good. Refrigerate covered until ready to serve. Traditionally spread on matzo but also good on celery sticks.

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