Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rules have changed, but hametz still has to go

Time is running out and I still have lots of hametz to finish off before Passover begins next week. I imagine the lovely Miss Wendy and I will be trashing much of the prohibited stuff, but I also think with just a little planning I can eat my way through the pantry and fridge.

I can feast on frozen waffles, toast and cereal for breakfast; sandwiches – heavy on the, ah, bread – for lunch and a euphonic and tasty blend of pastas for dinner. Let’s not forget snacks and dessert – graham crackers and chocolate chip cookies; weight-watcher brownies and ice cream; jellies, jams and cola all laced with high-fructose corn syrup. Burp!

Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t use my gut as a trash can. Given that I’m doing a pretty good job of turning my back on all things sugary and loaded with carbs, it’s probably better that I stick with salads, yogurt, veggies and protein – moderate portions of fish, chicken and red meat. The hametz, what little is still around, even the sugarless stuff, will either be packed up and tossed or sold and stored.

Then we’ll be set, time once again to focus on matzo and the lovely new things that kosher food manufacturers are producing these days to make Passover palatable. Once upon a time you had to suffer a bit for eight days, recalling those momentous days thousands of years ago when the Children of Israel, with a little Divine help and guidance, broke free from Egyptian slavery.

The Hebrew slaves were in such a hurry to skedaddle once Moses finished plaguing Pharaoh that we’re told they didn’t even have time to let their bread rise before baking it. The finished product, flat and tasteless, is what we call matzo today. It remains flat and mostly tasteless and, along with a few additional dietary laws, informs what observant Jews can eat during the holidays.

And what’s the penalty for cheating and enjoying a piece of bread, donut or slice of cake? Those souls, the observant believe, are lost to the people Israel. Yikes.

But I digress. These days you can, ah, skip your cake and eat it too! All those things that are prohibited – cereal, pasta, cakes, cookies and soda – are now produced in ways that allow them to be consumed while following the letter of the law if not exactly the spirit of the holiday.

There use to be something special about not being able to eat your favorite breakfast cereal for a week or so, ignoring Coca-Cola for a few days and being forced to use macaroons instead of Oreo cookies to dunk in your milk. Yech! If you’re willing to pay the price, however, these days you can buy just about anything made special for Passover.

It’s not exactly as tasty as the stuff filled with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But it’s close. And if it’s a matter of keeping your soul connected with the Children of Israel when you’re jonesing for a sugary hit, maybe it’s worth the price. Just make sure you read the fine print when checking out at the market and make sure you have a good lawyer when it’s time to check in with the guy sporting the big “G” on his sweatshirt!

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