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Now on a Clearance Shelf in Your Local Supermarket: Understanding Passover Foods
Even though Passover is an eight day holiday (of which today is the third), grocers have likely already marked down much of their Passover goods. Bargains are there to be had, so I wanted to offer my fellow Buxrites a look inside to see what to buy and what to stay away from.
Briefly, Passover celebrates the biblical exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites "did not have time for the bread to rise." This phrase spawned volumes of rabbinic interpretation and a modern day industry of prepared foods. Foods marked "Kosher for Passover" have no wheat or flour other than specifically prepared flour made into matzah and then ground into matzah meal; no yeast or other leavening agents; no oats, rye, barley, or spelt; no corn, rice, beans, soy, legumes; no products of these ingredients (ie no corn syrup).
Matzah: a dry sheet of cracker-like consistency, generally lacking pronounced flavor. You can eat it to replace bread with spreads or cheeses, peanut butter and jelly; use it in stuffings; try cooking "matzah brei" for breakfast. Search online for recipes or ask for mine. Egg matzah is drier and has a hint of flavor. Whole wheat matzah is even more inedible than plain.
Matzah Meal: crushed matzah used as a cooking and baking flour; very dry; use for matzah meal pancakes, breading chicken to replace bread crumbs.
Cake Meal: Finely dusted matzah meal to use in baking.
Gefilte Fish: a somewhat mild ground fish cake served cold as an appetizer; made from carp, pike, pickerel, or whatever; an acquired taste perhaps; horseradish is a great on it
Borscht: cold beet soup
Matzah balls (in chicken soup): dumplings made from matzah meal, eggs, and oil; consistency ranges from light and fluffy to dense and heavy (floaters and sinkers); highly recommend these to the uninitiated.
Passover baked goods, cakes, cookies: you can bet that they will be dry and heavy; filled with excess eggs and sugar; may be tasty, but proceed at your own risk.
Macaroons: Coconut cookies in multitudes of flavors; moister than prepared cookies, but still dense; worthwhile trying.
Passover cereals: most akin to flavored cardboard; your kids won't eat them.
Passover pastas: I'd eat a box of Passover cereal before a single strand of Passover noodles or pasta; your kids won't eat them--your dog may not eat them.
Anything else marked Kosher for Passover: is made with supervision and without the aforementioned ingredients. Look for bargains in the Passover clearance aisle on grape juice, apple juice, canned fruit, salad dressings, chocolate bars and candies (all made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup), pickles, salsas, middle-eastern foods, marshmallows, jellies/fruit preserves, Bazooka bubble gum (made in Israel, comics in Hebrew),etc.
Finally, look for Coke and Diet Coke 2-liter bottles with yellow caps. They too are Kosher for Passover and are made with sugar instead of corn syrup and are more reminiscent of the original tastes (that I remember from my youth, at least).
Questions? Post 'em here, I am happy to help.