Passover Pity Party

chocolate silk pie

Take my advice:  Don’t — I repeat, do not — attend a party during Passover.  Not if you’re the least bit observant, anyway.

And I mean any kind of party — a 5-year old’s birthday, a retirement shindig or even a humble pot luck in the break room at work.  I know you have good intentions and the reason you’re there is to support the honoree or the spirit of the occasion.  But face it:  You are not going to be able to eat the cake (not even the fashionable sliver so coveted by dieters), you are not going to be able to drink the champagne and you are most certainly not going to be able to eat any of that lovely food so colorfully taunting you from the buffet table.

What you will do is bring a piece of matzah in a baggie.  And cry.

For observant Jews, our Passover food restrictions are quite severe.  If it contains an ingredient that came in a bag, a box or a can, it is likely off-limits due to the presence of corn syrup or soy products.  Explaining this to anyone who did not grow up with it is futile.  They will look at you as if you hail from the lower depths, then smile wanly and slowly back away.

I am reminded of the way I occasionally explain the challenges of starch limitation that is the life of a Type 2 diabetic.  “What do you mean, starch?” they will ask.  “Think about any kind of food you really enjoy, without which your life would be greatly diminished,”  I reply.  “That food is starch.”

Passover is kind of like that.  If you like it, forget it.  Better start crossing the days off your calendar now.  And there are eight of those days, bucko.  Eight looooong days until you can have pizza and beer again.  Eight looooong days until you can have tacos and quesadillas again.  Eight looooong days until you have donuts and ice cream again.

You can quit your whining now.  Shut up and eat your matzah.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t eat meat.  And just what do we eat during Passover?  Besides matzah, I mean.


Lots of meat, lots of fish.  Eggs in the morning, eggs in the evening, eggs at suppertime, tra la.  Being a semi-vegetarian, my staples include tofu, veggie burgers, veggie dogs, veggie sausages and fake lunch meat made of textured vegetable protein (TVP).  In other words, soy, soy and more soy.  None of that may be eaten during Passover.

Fortunately for me, I have been conducting a long-running, lurid love affair with the tuber they call the potato.  I would go so far as to say that, during the eight days of Passover, the potato is my savior.  Baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, potatoes fried in olive oil, garlic potatoes roasted in the oven.  Between the potatoes and the matzah, suffice it to say that I will not be checking my A1C glucose level any time soon.  If my doctor complains, I’ll shove a piece of matzah down his throat.

Well, today I broke what I thought was my hard and fast rule.  I attended a party on the second day of Passover.  That’s right, it’s only the second day!  Six more days of this!  Ugh.

I daintily picked at the fruit bowl.  I ate a carrot stick, but couldn’t dip it in the ranch dressing.  And I swear, the tortilla chips and guacamole were mocking me.  The cute little rounds of French bread surrounding the spinach dip were jeering at me.  And I’m pretty sure that sound I heard was the plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies giving me the raspberry.

As if that weren’t enough, a pie was brought out and placed in the center of the table to be the star of the show.  A pie with lovely little tufts of whipped cream fluted around the edges.  Oh no, not any pie.  After all, it’s Passover!  We wouldn’t want to serve a plebeian apple or cherry pie, now would we?  Some kind of plain Jane everyday pie at which I could smile wanly and slowly back away?  That would never do.  No siree, Bob.

Someone had to bring a… chocolate… silk… pie.  From Claim Jumper.  Aggghhhh!

I guess it could have been worse.  It could have been a chocolate mountain cake with Neapolitan ice cream.

Excuse me, I’m going to eat a piece of matzah now.


8 thoughts on “Passover Pity Party

  1. I feel your pain. In the last three days, members of my office have ‘thoughtfully’ bought cakes in pre-emptive celebration of Easter, and doughnuts, in honour of someone’s birthday. Meanwhile, I eat matzah for lunch. Yummy.

  2. I enjoyed your article, as always.
    You are an example of what true commitment is about.
    It is not only what we say that has a positive influence on others, but the lives we live on a daily basis.
    Thank you for adding value to my life.

  3. When I was in high school, the only week of the year I’d bring my lunch from home was Passover. But I never made it to lunch…I’d sneak maccarroons during math, nibble leftover charoset during French. The food smelled good, and I was afraid if I hit the lunchroom hungry, I’d eat the wrong thing out of hunger. This was a pre-emptive strike before lunchtime hit.

    One year, I started eating matza when the teacher left the room for the moment. My new classmate, a Seventh Day Adventist from Haiti, was SO EXCITED! She sorta had known I was Jewish before that, but this was the first time she’d seen a real Jewish person eating real matza on Passover. She was practically jumping up and down in her seat, asking questions, so proud of me. And I suddenly felt so proud to be the one eating the matza in the back of the room.

    • What a wonderful story, Rebecca! Ah, yes, how well I remember carrying matzah and hard boiled eggs to school during Passover. Not a big deal when I attended a school with many other Jewish students, but after we moved to a location in which my sister and I were about the only Jewish students in an enormous school, my strange-looking food did garner quite a bit of curiosity. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I realized, while reading this, that what I’m munching on now probably would have passed the bar: spinach in peanut dressing. Surely you could eat ice cream if you made your own? My mom bought us an ice cream maker some time ago, it’s simple to use and the greatest expense is the cream.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, and I am so glad you asked. To answer your questions: No, and possibly.

      The tradition among Ashkenazic Jews (those hailing from eastern Europe, i.e., most American Jews) is to avoid eating all “kitniyot” during the eight days of Passover. This encompasses all legumes: lentils, beans, green peas, corn, soy products, peanuts, most types of vinegar. Thus, your peanut dressing would be out. Although there are special Passover salad dressings available in bottles (in large cities like New York, but not in our remote area of California), I generally stick to a squeeze of lemon during Passover.

      It would be possible to make my own ice cream if I were to stick to using cream, sugar and fruit. Even vanilla extract is prohibited unless specially made, due to the fermentation process involved. Since I wrote this post, however, I have transitioned to veganism, so the point is now moot. 🙂

      • Ahhh… I forgot about the legume prohibition. And I forgot peanuts are legumes! Maybe almond dressing would work. I am mostly vegan, I cycle in and out of strict veganism. Italian ices would be ok during passover, right?But then you might as well just make popsicles.

  5. Almond dressing sounds wonderful! And although I need to watch my sugar consumption, I may take your advice and consider Italian ice this year. I just need to find a brand that is made without corn sugar.

    I am not a strict vegan by any means, but I try to stay about 95%, so to speak. That may change as time goes on and I make adjustments.

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