Joyce Goldstein:
Food and fun for Passover
From the RK Archives
In researching for the Passover Seder meal, my first choice for the subject was Joyce Goldstein. She has written 3 books on Jewish cooking. Her latest being Saffron Shores (Chronicle Books). She graciously invited me to her home for the interview, and we discussed the significance and symbols of this Jewish feast.

The information I present here is more in the way of shedding light on this culture, of which I am an interested outsider. And even though I am not Jewish, I enjoy showing the universality of the rituals and symbols of a family meal. Telling stories and teaching our younger ones the ways of our family and community. This is really what the Passover Seder is all about. A story told around the dinner table, each food item a symbol to help in remembering.

The holiday celebrates the exodus of the Jews from the slavery of Egypt. They left very quickly, lest the Pharoh changed his mind! They did not wait for their daily bread to rise, the Matzoh (unleavened bread) is a part of the feast for this reason. At the center of the Seder dinner table is the Seder plate, with places for each of the ritual foods. First is the Karpas or mild green herb, such as parsley or romaine lettuce to symbolize new growth. This is dipped into salt water, representing the tears of the slaves. Next, the Maror or bitter herb, usually horseradish or chicory to remember the bitter times. The roasted egg or Betza is a symbol of the sacrifice to God at the temple and an expression of Thanksgiving. The Zeroah is the roasted lamb bone, the sacrificial lamb and symbol of religious freedom. Lastly, Charoset (or Haroset) is a fruit and nut paste symbolizing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in the construction of the pyramids.

Joyce was quick to point out that Passover is a Spring holiday, and the meal should be resplendent with the fresh ingredients of the season. Items like spring lamb, artichokes, asparagus, green peas and the like all can find their way to the feast. Her books on Jewish cooking all focus on the Sephardic or Mediterranean Jews as opposed to the Ashkenazic or Eastern European Jews. Since a lot of people are turning to Mediterranean foods and dishes for health reasons, this is a wonderful way for Jewish people to create healthier meals.

Chef Goldstein is known nationally from her days as the owner of Square One restaurant in San Francisco and the author of numerous books such as Enoteca, Cucina Ebraica and Sephardic Flavors (all Chronicle Books).

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Algerian Passover Matzoh and Pea Omelet
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