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On Passover, Tradition Is What You Make of It, from Bubbie's Brisket to Peach Farfel


One of the lessons the Passover seder teaches us is that collective memory is invoked not just through the sound of familiar words reverberating in our ears,  but also through our taste buds.


The explicit theme of the holiday is the Jewish people's journey from slavery to freedom, and the seder itself involves talking about that foundational story as well as re-experiencing it.


And how exactly do we do that? By tasting the salt water that reminds us of our ancestors' tears and the bitter herbs that convey the bitterness of enslavement, by eating the charoset that reminds us of the bricks and mortar of our ancestors' unpaid labor, by crunching into the flat, hard bread of affliction.


For many of those who observe Passover in one way or another, there is also a second layer of collective memory that the seder conveys: not just the tale of the formation of a people but the more individual story of each family and the food memories that echo from one generation to the next.


Stacey Zisook Robinson and Laurie Yarnell write for Have Faith, Will Parent about the Passover taste traditions in their families – and both are kind enough to share their recipes.


In "When Passover Approaches, I Start Thinking About Brisket," Robinson writes about talking to her son about how to make her bubbie's brisket, given that her grandmother's measurements are less than exacting.


"It is totally okay to forget the gravy, which is really just the pan juices poured into a gravy boat," writes Robinson. "This creates additional opportunity to apologize for the meal, and for the guests to show their love and tell you how amazing the food is.  If you've planned it correctly, you will have made too much, which is exactly right."


In "My Not-Really-My-Own Peach Matzah Farfel," Yarnell talks about the messy and time-consuming recipe that she has nonetheless put back into her Passover menu because her family missed it so much.


"Today, I feel an extra sense of responsibility to make my seder meal not just another Thanksgiving-esque rerun but more old-style," writes Yarnell. "So this year, gefilte fish is out and peach farfel is in."







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