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Double Life – Charoset or Passover dilemmas

fubiniBy Daniela Fubini*

In the local supermarket, three days before Pesach, among a frenzy crowd there are three women: an Israeli, a French and an Italian. And this is not the beginning of a joke, it is my 72-hours-to-matzah moment, this year. So the setting first of all: a quite large but not American-size large supermarket of a medium brand; not the cheapest and not the most expensive. Many shelves and entire aisles of non-Pesach products are already wrapped in white plastic and blocked at both entrances by pallets and other massive objects that can be found in supermarkets, like stands emptied and used as temporary walls.

So there we are, close to the spices and sauces Kosher for Passover, three ladies scanning for Charoset. Now, before anyone can put up a judgmental attitude, it should be known that in the history of my family, spanning since before Isabella of Castile and her equally fundamentalist husband Ferdinand of Aragon expelled all the More and the Jews from Spain, the Charoset has always, relentlessly been prepared at home. No time in history has been too dire to grind and cook nuts, dates and apples for long hours in preparation for the Seder night of Pesach. This said, this year I had come back from abroad way too late for that, and in Israel – hallelujah! – kosher Charoset is sold in supermarket; so there I was, sharing doubts and questions with an Israeli wearing flip-flops and a French in a dress and matching hat, who like me didn’t have time to cook this year.

The Israeli chose a light brownish Charoset that looked suspiciously too uncooked to me. The French picked a small jar with a Charoset so dark they must have used cocoa or (the horror!) coffee to make it. The Italian (me) had a moment of real despair, then took two jars hoping for the best. The Israeli approved and said: don’t worry, if you don’t like either type you can mix them, cook them a little bit more adding wine, and it will be great! Ah, the Israeli result-oriented mind. Eventually, we had a great Pesach, with my mother-in-law’s home cooked Charoset.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Israel, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.