Pesach in Israel is mad. People from all over the world flock here. The beaches are packed like a tin of sardines, the roads are bumper to bumper and even the worst restaurants get booked up early. My family and I have been coming here for years at this time but finally having made aliyah, I could keep one day of chag and finally didn’t feel like a tourist.

It’s so interesting that there are only two positive commandments that have prescribed punishments if you do not do them. These are brit milah and the Pesach Sacrifice, that we fulfill through Seder night until we get a Temple, and are the most kept of all the commandments. It’s a beautiful thought that everywhere all over the world, more so than a Shabbat and apparently even Yom Kippur, most Jews were sitting with their loved ones and connecting to the beauty of Pesach and its lessons of freedom. Being so soon after the election where we all showed our uniqueness as the only democratic nation in the Middle East, I was especially moved.

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Despite this mad and moving time, I do have to note that for the life of me I do not understand why food on Pesach has to be so abysmal and unhealthy. At a time when I can’t eat rice or flour, why don’t we use this for a low carb diet and instead use some of the most awful food substitutes and recipes known to man? Can’t we just use our creativity with vegetables instead of pasta and rice, and fruits instead of cakes for a few days? We all try the kosher for Pesach pizzas and burgers when we see them on menus, hoping this year will be different. Even if we’re not utterly disappointed, it will never be the same as the real thing so maybe for a few days we can have something that doesn't have to be morphed beyond comprehension to give it a hint of regularity. I'm also pretty sure if you gave one of these pizzas to an Italian he would go all Mussolini on you, and quite rightly so too!


I also, to be honest whilst ranting, do not understand why when restaurants do not stock a particular product they have to tell me it is because it is not kosher for Pesach. Before I understood basic Hebrew - thank you Ulpan Etzion - I thought that them telling me this in English was just something lost in translation. Now I know they are giving misinformation. Why can't the restaurants just say the truth - that they do not have mayonnaise, don’t serve chips, or didn't want to buy a new deep fryer to only be used a few days a year? Its not rocket science for a chef to know what is kosher if he works in a kosher restaurant and to inform the staff.

Anyway, it is over now and I for one really enjoyed my post-Pesach fix by having my first American Deli Sandwich.



 
My beautiful wife and I visited the in-laws for the end of Pesach in New York, finally buying all the clothes we had wanted since our last time spent there, and I had a proper food fest. Anyone visiting, I highly recommend Pardes in Brooklyn where the chef changes his menu regularly and is one of the most creative in the Jewish culinary world, if not generally due to the extra limitations kashrut poses. If they have the salad with the oxtail croutons and bee pollen then definitely give it a try. For the record, I thought I had had a deli sandwich before but later found out the restaurant wasn't actually kosher despite advertising a kosher certificate, so consider Essen on Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush, a recommendation from my new grandmother-in-law, my first official experience. It was simple and delicious - honey beef and chopped liver on club with a Cel-Ray, a celery flavored soda - salad as a soda! We also got to see all our nieces and nephews who just get cuter each day and being the token strange foreigner I am definitely the favorite uncle.




Thankfully summer is finally on its way now, one of the primary reasons many of us moved here. The grey skies of London are a distant memory.



With this in mind I decided to share with you a British classic that I feel really fits in to our lives here, especially whilst some nights are still a tad chilly and we haven’t yet given up on our love of heavy winter foods. Here is a very basic recipe for fish pie that is only advisory as you can really add any fish, vegetables and cheeses you so desire and it will still taste marvelous.

I like to use combinations. I took salmon, sole and tuna fillets and mixed it with grated Emmental and mature Cheddar, thyme, white pepper, salt, truffle oil, cream, peas, sliced boiled eggs and cornflour. Top with a mash of butternut squash and potatoes mixed with butter, milk, salt, white pepper, rosemary and grated nutmeg and bake at 200°C until the top is golden brown. Easy, healthy(ish) and delicious.




Give it a try and let me know what other combinations you would use. Remember, your creativity is only limited by your imagination!

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