Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nothing tastes like home-made Haroseth

There is nothing like home-made Haroseth - the paste eaten at Passover that symbolises the bricks and mortar that the children of Israel toiled to make as slaves in Pharoah's Egypt, says Lucette Lagnado in Opinion Journal. (With thanks: Lily).

"Now that my parents have died, I find myself yearning for the texture and richness of my mother's dark red jam and for the musical sound one of those gleaming spoons would make as my father tapped it against his wine glass. I guess that is why I winced when I saw the Streit's jar. Instant haroseth, I thought. Is nothing sacred?

"Passover has always taken on a literal cast for me. I was born in Cairo, and my family had to leave when I was 6 years old, as part of a massive, modern-day Exodus of tens of thousands of Jews from Egypt and the Levant in the aftermath of the creation of the State of Israel. At the Seder, Jews read that we must regard the flight from Egypt as if it were our own personal journey. This was no trouble for my family. We'd had our own encounter with a Pharaoh--the dictator Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Despite our hardships there, we also missed Egypt, perhaps never more than on Passover. Our holiday had an inverted quality, longing for the place we were grateful to have left.

"And now a jar of premade haroseth has made me miss my mother's homemade variety all the more. I called the Streit's company, an 81-year-old family-owned business, still in its original location on New York's Lower East Side, and asked whether this is the first time that it was selling this product. I tried to keep outrage from creeping into my voice. A man whose name was Boris Glusker told me that his company has been selling haroseth in a jar only for the past few years. Mr. Glusker was humble: He didn't rave about his industrial haroseth, which is made in Israel. He and the Streit cousins who run the company were actually comforting when I confided how hard my mother had worked to produce this delicacy. "It's America," sighed Aaron Gross, the founder's great-great-grandson. "People want ease, efficiency.

"Haroseth in a jar is fine, but Mr. Glusker acknowledged the truth that, for him and for me, it is never as good as Mom's."

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