Friday, April 25, 2008

The Dark Side Of Passover (a.k.a. The Food): A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Last weekend, I went to my girlfriend’s aunt’s house to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover (or Pesach, as observant Jews — or non-observant Jews who pretend to be observant Jews — call it) is the celebration of the Jews’ escape from their Egyptian slave masters and the remembrance of their struggle.

And like all Jewish holidays, it has food.

All Jewish holidays, by the way, revolve around food. Hanukah? Potato latkes. Purim? Hamantashen (Jewish cookies). Yom Kippur? You don’t eat anything for a day to atone for your sins, but once the sun goes down, you have a big meal before commencing more sins.

Food. Food. Food. And Passover is no exception.

Now I have a confession to make (and I know I’m going to make myself an outcast among my fellow Jews everywhere with this statement): I hate Passover food.

There, I said it. It’s out there. In the open.

I mean, Passover food is just plain awful. And I’m not just referring to the bitter herbs that we eat to remind us of the bitter times when Egyptians made us build the pyramids (and it’s not like those things came fully assembled, I might add). I’m talking about the traditional cuisine associated with this holiday.

For example:


Matzah, for those who don’t know, is unleavened bread, which Jews eat during Passover to symbolize how the Jews had no time to leaven their bread – and instead made flat, hard cakes known as matzah – before running away from the Egyptians.

What’s wrong with Matzah?


Except for the fact that it sucks.

People, matzah is tasteless. It’s literally like eating drywall. It is absent flavor, smell and taste. It is so bad that one time, when I was a wee little Nev, I told my mom the following:

"Did you ever think the Jews ran away from slavery so we wouldn’t have to eat this crap? Did you ever think that we’d be dishonoring their memory if we didn’t eat real bread?"

She didn’t buy it.

Thus, in order for me to make matzah somewhat edible, I use the following ingredients:

Lots of salt.

Lots of pepper.

1 whole cube of butter.

Anything less than a cube and I have drywall aftertaste.

Now some people love this stuff. My girlfriend’s great uncle Fred, for example, was shoveling it like there was a 15-minute time limit. Fred, who is pushing 90, apparently woke up that day, decided he was once again a teenager with an insatiable appetite, and ate 47 pieces of matzah during the meal.


It was like watching a Sizzler "all you can eat shrimp" commercial unfold before my very eyes.

And then there’s:


Manishevitz is the wine that is drank at all Jewish events involving prayer. It is also the first alcohol that most Jews consume in their lives, partaking in the beverage as children.

And that leads me to the following point:

If you hook every Jew up to a lie detector test and he or she said, "I LOVE MANISHEVITZ!!!" they would be branded as a liar.


Because deep down, they – like me – hate the stuff. It’s not that they think it tastes good. It’s that, when they drink it, they’re reminded of the days of yesteryear, when they were no taller than the end of Mommy’s skirt or Daddy’s knee, and they were allowed the rare treat of consuming alcohol.

They don’t like Manishevitz. They just like how cool it makes them feel.

Look at yourself in the mirror and tell me I’m wrong, fellow Jews!!

Regardless, this doesn’t stop them from consuming Manishevitz in mass quantities at Passover. It’s like the Jewish version of white lightning. You might as well just put it in a flask and sit under an oak tree with a banjo.

And finally, there’s:

Gefilte fish.

I have a theory about God:

I believe that every now and again, God makes something disgusting, makes sure it gets served at a religious holiday so that we feel blasphemous if we think ill of it, and laughs His ass off as we pretend to love His creation.

Hence, gefilte fish at Passover.

Simply put, this is the most disgusting food known to man. It’s poached fish patties, or balls, and typically stored in jars of jelly. It looks like something you’d find in the movie "Aliens."

At last week’s Passover, it was served with onions and horseradish on a big leaf of salty lettuce, and everyone was shoveling it in their mouths like it was gold from a treasure chest.

I could literally picture God laughing, a bag of potato chips and ice cold Pepsi in his hand, muttering, "What morons" as he partakes in his Ruffles.

Gefilte fish.

Vengeful, vengeful God.

And now for this week’s:


Recently, I read an article about how adult film star Jenna Jameson is hell bent on segueing from porn movies to mainstream films.

With that in mind, she’s recently starring in the following movie:

Zombie Strippers.

No doubt a coming-of-age picture.

(Do you need to cheer someone up but have no idea how? Send them to and let me do the cheering up for you. Really, I don’t mind.)


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Amber said...

Nev, you forgot the one way that matzoh is edible... matzoh ball soup! 'Cmon, that stuff is awesome.

And I'm ashamed to admit that I actually like gefelte fish. Especially with horseradish. Then again, I'm a culturally/ethnically Jewish athiest, so what the hell do I know?

Larry Israelson, Glendale CA said...

I've never attended a Passover meal (seder?), but when I was about 12, a Jewish family lived two doors down from our house in Huntington Beach and one afternoon Mrs. Hoff served her daughter and me something called "matzoh brei" (sp?) that wasn't half bad. My wife Conny is actually quite fond of Manischewitz cherry wine, though I admit it's been a few years since we've had any in the house. I'm completely willing to take your word regarding gefilte fish, however. I've never dared to taste the stuff because it looks completely unappetizing, and nobody has ever said anything to me to suggest that it tastes any better than it looks.

Carlos said...