As I pull into the parking lot, the tent falls into my direct line of vision. The structure itself covers about a third of the parking lot. Drivers are trying to figure out how to get around the tent in their cars without running anyone over or driving into anybody else’s. Though I would enjoy seeing some of these vehicular mishaps — you know, the one where the woman driving the 150-foot-high SUV is on her phone and has no idea that she is driving the wrong way on a one way lane — sights like that always make me laugh. Yes, I know that is wrong, but it still is funny.
In any event, I park my car and head into the tent. The inside looks even bigger than the outside. Each row has a sign above it, directing the customer to choices like “Tomato Sauce, Pasta, Canned Vegetables.” Another row informs you that there you can find, “Baked Goods, Almond Flour, Almond Butter, Almond Crackers, Almond Frosting.” Rows and rows of edible options for your Passover menu. As I look around to try to take in all of the products that are so easily available to us, I said, out loud (because that is how I roll), “Gee, do you think that when God was taking us out of Egypt, this is what he had in mind? 43 different types of olive oil? Breakfast cereal? Keto-friendly matzah?” There is no way that this was God’s intention. That you can just walk into a store and buy already-made cakes that might have been baked during the actual yitziat Mizrayim (leaving of Egypt) and still taste fresh today? How is that even possible?
I am serious, though — how do all those cakes stay fresh when they are put out on the shelves at the end of February and aren’t eaten until mid-April? What’s the secret ingredient there? Does anyone actually buy those cakes? The fancy looking ones? Do they taste like sandcastles? Seriously, if someone reading this buys those cakes every year, I would love a review.
I started thinking about our forefathers who experienced the very first Passover. “Your uncle Shloimey told us that the unleavened bread they ate before the sea split had a crunchy texture to it. That’s what we have to replicate. And maybe we should make it with lots of rows so people can have a hard time putting cream cheese on it without it breaking into little pieces and making a mess all over the place.” Yes, that man was Theodore Streit. The founder of the first overpriced matzah. I am kidding.
But behind everything we buy for this holiday, there is some family making a killing off of it. The American dream that started in Egypt. You gotta love it. Every product that has sea salt in it can be traced back to one of the original members of the hagaddah cast. This would make sense, considering that the whole point of this holiday is to tell the story of what happened all those years ago.
I just wonder if the very first seder was in a hotel where there was a 24 hour tea room equipped with soda fountains and a candy machine. Maybe Mordechai Shapiro’s great-great-great-great grandfather was the entertainment. The folks who stayed home that first Passover could actually complain to their neighbors who experienced it firsthand, “Tell me again why I have to suffer because of what you went through last year? My kids can’t stop singing that annoying ‘frogs here, frogs there’ song!!!” Good times.
And I always feel badly for those poor, unsuspecting consumers who buy the Coke products with the yellow caps; not having any idea that what they are buying does not taste like what they actually are used to and now they can’t return it because it is considered a “seasonal item.” And every good Passover shopper knows that if you don’t buy what you need before the holiday starts, chances are they won’t have it when you come back after the first days are over. You are welcome for that tip.
Yes, the choices we have now are beyond expectation. Is that good? Who knows. Life seemed simpler when there was less to choose from, but that is life in general. And, in conclusion from last week’s March Madness column, my Tar Heels lost — but that is life in general as well.
Keep laughing, folks. It’s all good. And even if it’s not — we have no choice.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck has a granddaughter and a husband who are currently taking the same medications. Small world.