(this was originally posted in 2015)
As today marks the beginning of Passover and the Passover Seder, I wanted to spend some time really discussing the idea of tradition. Especially the traditions in each of our different cultures.
You might not realize, but the Passover Seder is a meal that is eaten in a particular order and is always a specific grouping of food (each having a different representation). While eating, the story of the liberation of the Jewish people who were enslaved in Egypt is retold. Connecting each piece of the meal to the story helps a person’s senses resonate with what is being heard.
The Seder usually consists of shank bone, bitter herbs, a hard boiled egg, lettuce, Charoset (a specific paste), and a non-bitter root vegetable that is used for specific prayer. Each piece of this dinner can be modified slightly. While I was researching for this post, I came across hundreds of comments that each stated something different about the meal.
After reading this, it struck me—food traditions mean something different to each person. There’s a general idea of the meal, but no one in your kitchen saying you’re wrong if you do things a certain way.
With every sentence I write I get closer and closer to freedom in cooking, in experimenting, and in building my own traditions. I don’t know when something becomes a food tradition, but I think the general idea of a meal being passed down to each generation sometimes has a greater meaning than copying step by step. Maybe that is what a tradition is.?
Within each tradition in our faith, food, and culture our voice changes to reflect our experiences. I grew up eating a turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. for both Thanksgiving and Christmas-until my sister became a vegetarian. I remember her mentioning having a vegetable lasagna that year, a few years later, when she was no longer a vegetarian, she mentioned that we should have a goose. Traditions don’t have to stay the same. It is the meaning behind the food, the day, and the celebration that connects and remind us how important the table is.