Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Passover in San Antonio

It was early, definitely not lunchtime yet. I was sitting next to Juana, and then Yolanda’s family was all there too. Her husband was quiet, maybe that’s why he brought the bottled drinks. They were flavored like cocktails. He offered me one, and I politely declined. It was too early in the day for a strawberry daiquiri wine cooler. I remembered that I forgot to hide the afikomen. I thought to explain to everyone what that meant, but then realized it would just be much easier to hide it and tell the children to find it at some point. Passover with Catholics who spoke Spanish could be tricky. In truth, Juana wanted to use up her leftovers from Lucy’s party the night before. She invited me to join them for a brunch the following day. Since Passover was coming, I figured I may as well take advantage of the large group of people gathering. I could have just done a seder at home with Guy, but that did not seem very appealing. You can usually count on children to join in on the enthusiasm of ancient ritualistic dining. Guy could be iffy in that department. When I returned to the table, I saw somebody had placed an open mojito wine cooler by my plate. I smiled and took a sip to avoid offending. It tasted like spearmint soda. I started explaining about the purpose of Passover. It was nice to do it without the little booklet, so I could make up bits as I went. My Spanish is pretty horrible, so it’s very likely no one understood anything I was saying. After my explanation on the significance of eating flat bread on this holiday, I opened the box of Jerusalem matza. We had to go to three different HEBs to find one that carried Passover products. As I broke the square into pieces for everyone to try, Guy told me, “Uh oh Babe- it says here, ‘NOT KOSHER FOR PASSOVER’.” I considered explaining what that meant. Then as I passed the plate around, said: “Just ignore that. It’s fine.” I’ve come a long way from my restaurant heksher hunting days. I remembered my father’s suggestion to sing ‘Deiyeinu’ with them. Without introduction, I started singing it. When it came to the chorus, as I banged on the table in time to the tune, I looked encouragingly at the kids there. Immediately they all chimed in as though they’d been singing this song for generations. Then I opened the little jar of Boarshead horseradish. I shared the story of how my father would make it from scratch, and how its potency increased with each passing day. When guests came, he would innocently offer them a whiff, knowing that the strength of the product could give them a good head rush. I passed the bottle to Yolanda’s husband. He held it reverently, and took a cautious smell. He put a healthy dollop on his plate. Mexicans invented capsaicin. Conversations started splintering around the table. The seder momentum fizzled. Juana brought a jar of caramel spread from the pantry. The kids took turns spreading it on the unkosher matza. They finally understood its inherent beauty.

1 comment: said...

You have given a good account of the whole event. The traditions are slowly dying. It is our responsibility to pass them on to the new generations in order to keep them alive.