With Passover inching ever closer, here is the third part of my pre-Passover questions. Today we have the wacky, the food-specific and the unexpected — just like many people’s Passover celebrations. Enjoy, and chag sameach. Have a very happy holiday.
Any suggestions for good kosher for Passover vegetarian, packable lunches?
Your hunch that options are limited is a good one. Your best options are the totally expected ones: hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, salads with roasted veggies. Quinoa is versatile and filling, and if you eat kitniyot (legumes that some people avoid on Passover and some people don’t), you have many more options that include rice and beans, hummus and lentils. I also love soup on Passover because it’s a food that tastes pretty much the way it does during the rest of the year. Even if you eat it cold, it’s likely more convenient and less weird than trying to bring a matzah sandwich to work.
Yes, my suggestions are kind of boring, but they’re also healthy and easy and in the spirit of the holiday to eat more simply than you usually would. It’s only a week, and you’ll be fine. Plus, I recommend chocolate as an accompaniment to all of them.
What is the ritual significance of the gefilte fish?
This article provides a fantastic look at the history of this often-maligned food, traditional reasons that fish is eaten at holiday meals, as well as the ways in which gefilte fish was a cheap way for poor people to serve fish to their families.
I learned a lot from it, but I’ve learned even more from my family’s stories about eating gefilte fish in multiple generations and locations. I learned from an old family friend, of blessed memory, who inexplicably used to save the jelly from jarred gefilte fish to bring home with her from holiday meals. I learned about it from who eats it, and who doesn’t, and with how much horseradish.
If you grew up with gefilte fish, it is both gross and delicious and inextricably part of holiday celebrations. If you didn’t grow up with it, feel no need to try to cultivate a taste for it, and just serve something else.
What is the substrate in my lizard’s mealworms/superworms containers, and is it kosher for Passover?
I can’t actually tell you what’s in your lizard’s food, nor do I really want to know! Also, I’m not an expert in halacha (Jewish law), and though I rarely have cause to default to this answer, if you are concerned about this, ask a rabbi.
That being said, one way to determine whether something in your house is considered chametz (leavened foods forbidden on Passover) is to ask, “Would a dog eat it?” I don’t know much about pets either, but I don’t think a dog would eat lizard food, so the mealworms may pass the test.
Mazel tov on posing a question I literally couldn’t have made up under any circumstances.
Why do some claim that some coconut products not need a hechsher?
Again, like above, I am wary of giving advice that veers into laws about keeping kosher for Passover, since we are a people notorious for looking for ways to make this holiday harder on ourselves than it needs to be.
My best guess regarding coconut is that it likely follows rulings similar to tree nuts and fruit and vegetables and would need to be produced in a way that keeps it away from other products and without any additives. I suggest searching for “coconut kosher for Passover,” reading through several interpretations and finding a source that gives an answer that’s comfortable and convenient for you.
My father-in-law recently asked me about a seder on the last night of Passover, which is something I’ve never heard of and can’t find anything to really research. Have you ever heard of this practice? It would not necessarily be in place of the first two, but in addition to them.
There is a Chassidic tradition to have a seder on the last night called the Moshiach (Messiah) seder. In this scheme, the first seders are about recalling the Exodus, and the last one is about looking forward to the Messianic age.
The last days of Passover are often the hardest and hungriest, so I love the idea of having another ritual to look forward to. Chabad centers often host these, so if you’re interested in learning more, that’s a good place to start.
My child attends public school and is scheduled to have a pizza party during Passover. What should I do?
Start by asking the school if there’s any way to rearrange the schedule, not in a challenging and defensive way, but just a query. If not, talk to your child and give her the option to be at school with special Passover treats to share around during the party, or the option to leave school that day.
If the experience is going to feel terribly unfair, don’t subject your child to it in a way that could make her feel resentful of Passover. And either way, make a promise for lots of pizza after the holiday is over.
Does tequila need a hechsher? If so, why?
Google thinks that I’m serving gefilte fish, mealworms, coconut and tequila for seder. Sounds like a party. My ludicrously non-expert opinion here is that alcohol has different stringencies associated than other drinks and, fortunately, kosher for Passover wine is easy to come by and good enough.
Thanks for all the great questions. I hope you have lots more good questions at your seders and a happy, wonderful Passover.