Newcomers to Judaism are sometimes shocked to discover that Passover isn’t just a day – it’s a week-long event! (To be precise: Seven days in Israel, or eight days in the Diaspora, unless you are Reform and think that Rabbi Hillel’s hard work in calculating the calendar should be honored, in which case, seven days. Short version: ask your rabbi.)
Yup, you got it right: We are only at the beginning of a week of NO CHAMETZ.
Veterans of many years of Judaism and/or Jewish childhoods will tell you about the wonders of matzo brie (fried matzah), matza pizza, etc. Those are fun and well worth trying. Some come to love them, and some not so much. It’s OK either way: you ate matzah at the seder and that’s all the matzah we are required to eat.
Newcomers may also be appalled at the sudden outbreak of constipation jokes from fellow Jews who don’t indulge in such humor except at Passover. All I know to tell you is that those jokes will disappear in a week, not to be heard again until next year. (To the purveyors of those jokes I say: no one forced you to eat that much matzah. Ahem.)
So in the meantime, what to eat?
Unprocessed fruits are all perfectly fine.
Vegetables will depend on whether you eat “kitniyot” or not. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry about it this year. If you are among the Jews who refrain from kitniyot at Passover, you know what not to eat. Again, if this has not been part of your practice until you’ve read this article, don’t worry about it – veggies are OK! – but you may want to study and ask your rabbi before next year.
Meats, dairy products, fish, etc are all good, as long as there’s no chametz mixed in with them. (No yogurt with granola on top.) Again, just avoid the processed stuff and you will be ok.
- Leftovers from the seder, if there are any.
- Tuna salad on matzah. Ditto for egg or chicken salad.
- Tuna salad on a nice mess of greens. Ditto for egg or chicken salad.
- Green salads with meat or dairy for protein – always good.
- Stews and soups are good, just (1) not processed – there will be chametz in there somewhere and (2) no dredging things in flour and (3) beer is chametz, so no Guinness stew. Serve over mashed potatoes, if you want.
- cut-up veggies
- leftover seder treats (macaroons? candies?)
- Kosher for passover chocolate and snacks
Before you panic, remember, it’s only a week. If you start feeling crazy, remember the story in Exodus 16. When our ancestors had been in the desert for more than 40 days, living on nothing but matzah, they complained to Moses about the food. God promptly sent them manna. I like to think that God was thinking, “Well! Finally! You learned to ask for what you need!”
So remember: you don’t have to live on matzah. Eat fresh if you can afford it. Look upon this time as a yearly “reset” button for your eating habits. And don’t forget to give tzedakah for those who cannot afford fresh food.
Image by Avital Pinnick, some rights reserved