(I suggest you read Parts I and II before reading this post. But you don’t have to. I’m not the boss of you.)
I’m writing this post the next day, after the seder.
This year, we agreed to hold the Passover seder at the home of one my friends; let’s call her A. She lives about 45 minutes from my apartment. The seder is scheduled to start at about 7:30 or so, around sundown. I arrive at A’s house at about 4:30 to start setting things up.
Even though I spent most of Friday cooking, there are some things I can’t do until I’m in the kitchen where the seder will take place. So I spend about 90 minutes preparing, baking, and so on, chatting with A and her husband all the while. Finally I get a chance to plop on the sofa for a couple of minutes.
After a few seconds, the conversation goes like this:
Me: (Sudden epiphany) Oh, no! Oh, no, no, no, no, no!
A: What’s the matter?
Me: You know the broth for the chicken soup?
A: Yes. Where is it?
Me: It’s sitting in my refrigerator at my place. I forgot to bring it!
I should explain: One of the key features of my Passover seders is my chicken soup with matzoh balls. Everyone loves it. Someone almost proposed marriage to me on the basis of that soup alone.
The secret to the soup is the broth. Packaged soup broth, and even those prepared in many kitchens, are often almost flavorless (unless they contain a lot of salt). My soup broth is not. I made it by simmering a mix of chicken and vegetables for five hours the previous day.
A’s husband: Why not call B? She’s coming tonight.
A: How is she going to get into his place?
Me: She has the keys to my apartment, in order to take care of my cats when I’m away. Great idea! But it’s out of her way… hmm…
[Sounds of me dialing B.]
Me: Hello, B. Have I mentioned to you lately how nice you look?
B: [Flat tone] What do you want?
Me: And your hair. The way you’ve been styling it lately looks so good.
B: Oh, god. You want me to kill someone, don’t you?
I explain the situation to B, who’s willing to pick up the huge tub of vegetable broth. She adds that she won’t be able to make to A’s home until about 8PM because of the delay, but that’s fine with us.
I continue cooking. It’s 7:30, and B has not yet arrived… and neither has C, whom we were expecting as well. In fact, C had called me earlier in the day for directions to A’s house.
8:00. 8:30… and B arrives with the soup broth; she also brings the charoset, horseradish, and a medley of baked mushrooms.
A bit of a tangent: I have a large soup pot at home. When I hold a Passover seder at someone else’s home, I always ask: "Do you have a large soup pot? If not, I’ll bring mine over." A said she had a soup pot. But when I pour the broth from the tub into her pot and add the additional vegetables, it turns out that her pot isn’t as big as mine.
"No problem," says A’s husband. He goes into their basement and gets a "turkey pot." I’ve never seen one before. It’s huge. It’s about 2.5 feet tall. It’s used for soaking turkeys in brine and cooking them on a grill. It takes five minutes just to clean the thing. But it certainly is big enough for the soup.
After all this fiasco, it’s about 9PM, and C still isn’t there. We don’t want to begin the seder without her, but it’s getting late. Our seders typically take 3 – 3.5 hours, so now it doesn’t look like we’ll start eating before midnight. I have visions of poor C getting lost due to my bad directions, getting into an accident, etc. I call her on her cell phone. No answer.
Then I call C at home. She answers. Her baby-sitter canceled at the last minute and she won’t be coming. I’m less annoyed that she didn’t call than I’m relieved that she’s OK.
I suggest that we do a reduced version of the seder, but the others will have none of it. They want to do the whole thing. And I’m the one who was raised Jewish!
To my surprise, we get through the seder in about two hours, and wind up eating at 11. Not bad. And the chicken soup came out great.
But that doesn’t really end the evening. I’m a "neat" cook: I wash the dishes as I’m cooking, so I don’t leave an enormous pile of dirty cooking pots after a meal. Even so, it takes a long time to clean up after a Passover seder. We all pitch in, but it’s still about 1AM before we’re all done.
We all plop on the sofa for a while, but the guests have to leave sometime. I say my good-byes, take my bags of leftovers (see Part II; you read it, didn’t you?) and head home. I get home at about 2:30AM, put away the leftovers; it’s about 3AM… and I’m still wide awake because of the Diet Coke I drank on the way home to make sure I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.
So at 3AM I’m on-line, fiddling with the web.
I finally get to sleep… and don’t wake up until noon, when the phone rings. It’s B, thanking me for a fun dinner. She apologizes for waking me, but she thought I’d be awake by now. Well, so did I.
Every year, I do a post-Passover assessment for the following year. My notes are:
– Too much oregano on the baked eggplant. Everyone said they liked it, but I have to remember: "Less is more."
– Too much baked eggplant; I now have about 1.5 pounds of it left over. For six people, and with so many dishes, I can make half as much.
– Same for the baked carrots.
– I halved the amount of spinach and kugel from the previous year, and there was plenty. (If you don’t know what kugel is, here’s a joke for you: "Do you like kugel?" "I don’t know. I’m not into kink, so I’ve never kugeled.")
– I halved the amount of baked potatoes from the previous year, and there were still too many! Halve it again for next year.
– The roast came out perfectly. Even B liked it, and she’s very critical about how meat is cooked.
Overall: About the most fun you could have at a dinner at which no one takes their clothes off.
Next year in Jerusalem!