Sunday, April 20, 2008

different from




For some reason, I thought it would be hard to find Passover foods in Paris, but the local Monoprix, your basic department store slash supermarket had a wide variety of matzot to choose from, as well as little paper-wrapped cylinders of charoset, an adaptable mixture of things like apples, nuts, wine, honey, and dates (one recipe here). The blue printing on the package read: Mémé Hélene vous souhaite Pessah cachère (Granny Helene wishes you a kosher Passover), with a picture of the somewhat dour-looking woman below, presumably Granny Helene of blessed memory.


Probably because I'm a Jewish heathen (which, I suppose, is likely an oxymoron, but you get my drift), I was surprised to find that the matzot were not the square ones I was used to, but instead were round and scalloped, pierced with a pretty pattern of holes, like a cut paper snowflake. After consulting the internets, I learned that, in fact, it was the square matzot I'd grown up with that were the anomaly. Exodus 12:39 says:

And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.

Apparently in Hebrew, the word that means cakes, could also be interpreted to mean circular, so the passage was read to mandate unleavened cakes that were also round. A simple, logical explanation. And for a moment, I felt a little like the wise son in the story, who wants to learn everything about Passover that he possibly can.

(If you're a bit rusty on the tale of the wise son and his three brothers, take a look at this musical explanation , sung (and I am not making this up) to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine).


edited to add: I was thinking that I was going to have to give up macarons for Passover. Christine, however, prompted me to look up the ingredients and it looks like the macaronfest can continue unabated!!!! Christine, you know I loved you before. But now, I love you even more than ever.

16 comments:

slouching mom said...

goodness! that granny helene! the stuff of my nightmares! (or, i've always thought a much better word, mes cauchemars)

Tash said...

I think Paris can make ANYTHING look pretty.

LAS said...

I went to my first Passover dinner last night at a friend's house. It was fun and different for me - a totally new experience.

Ahuva Batya said...

Leave it to the French to make even the bread of affliction beautiful.

calliope said...

oh wow- those look beautiful.

Julia said...

Matza of my childhood came home in a giant sac, freshly baked at the one functioning synagogue left in the Old City, after my dad and my uncle spent all night in line to get it. The shape was very much rectangular, and nowhere nearly as pretty as the French make it. Does it taste any better with those pretty designs?

niobe said...

Julia: Sadly, no.

My Reality said...

They are pretty, much prettier than the usual square ones.

Did you know that the Williams Sonoma site has macarons by mail order? Maybe when you are desperate for them, you can give them a try.

Oh, and if you can direct me to a recipe of them, I would greatly appreciate it!

niobe said...

My reality: Here's a post with links to lots of recipes as well as a bunch of practical tips and pitfalls to avoid.

I'm sure, given your extraordinary culinary talents, you'll work wonders with them.

Julia said...

Dang... But I guess there is not much that can be done with flour, water, and 18 minutes.

Patti said...

One of my best and most dear friends is Jewish and her mother has included me (and by extension, my husband and children) at every high holiday function since I was 16. I love Passover. My son practised and actually did teh four questions this year - in Hebrew! I love, love, LOVE charoset. Yummy stuff - especially with a bit of horseradish.

Hope your Seder was good.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i am so glad that i am a heathen. i never have to give up anything! i hope you are still enjoying the paris-at least half as much as i am enjoying the pics!

painted maypole said...

macarons are unleavened? sweet!

passingwindows said...

We are not Jewish although almost every member of my family is fascinated by one or other part of the culture. For my mother this of course translates into food and I remember coming home to find her watching TV, eating matzohs with butter and marmite. Probably not at all how matzohs were meant to be eaten but they taste very good this way!

susan said...

Is everything prettier in Paris? The matzoh certainly is. I love the first photo.

Christine said...

hey! anytime i can help just let me know. :-)