A Moroccan Passover seder makes up for the absence of rice with an abundance of rich dishes. The seder plate would be spun over the heads of the participants and a young single girl spills wine leftover from the Ten Plagues ritual as a blessing to help her get married. Rachel Avraham writes in United for Israel:
All the most expensive foods would be served at a Moroccan seder
There is no matzah ball soup and no gefilte fish at a
Moroccan Seder. However, unlike many other members of Sephardic and
Mizrahi Jewish communities, Leah Avraham did not grow up eating rice
during the Passover Seder, just like the vast majority of Ashkenazi
Instead, at her Seder, she recalls that her mother would prepare 15
to 20 different kinds of salad, a potato dish with meat inside known as
pastallim, pashtida (which is similar to kugal), lamb served with dried
fruits, Moroccan fish, a special soup with Middle Eastern cooked broad
beans (ful), tongue, an expensive variety of mushroom known as truffle
(it cost 1,000 NIS per kilo), and numerous other vegetables. All of the most expensive foods were served during Passover, according to Leah.
Any one who is familiar with the Moroccan kitchen will be able to
explain how tasty and special the Moroccan salads are. They include beet
salad, fried eggplant salad, baked eggplant salad (which is usually
served with tahina), spicy pepper salad, spicy tomato salad, preserved
olives, green cabbage salad, purple cabbage salad, potato with olives
salad, cucumber salad, egg salad, etc. Leah claimed that no one would
walk away from her family’s Seders hungry. The various meats, vegetables and salads were so filling that no one felt that they actually needed chametz (bread products).
In addition to the meal, Moroccan Jews would also eat marror (bitter herbs) and
charotzet (sweet paste to recall bricks and mortar). However, their charotzet was different from Iraqi Jews in the
sense that they served date paste balls rather than date paste by
itself. Each person at a Moroccan Seder would eat one of these charotzet balls.
However, their marror was lettuce, just like many other Sephardic and
Mizrahi Jewish communities. Wonderful matzah would be served as well,
which Leah claimed that Leah’s mother made themselves from scratch with
the help of relatives. Back in Morocco, Leah had a relative whose job was to make matzah and sell it to other members of the Jewish community.
Leah describes how beautiful the Moroccan Seder table was in her family. Her
mother always covered the table with a gorgeous tablecloth and used the
best china dishes, which were reserved only for Passover.
Seders in her family included about 10 people, eight children plus two
parents. They did not include the extended family at their Seders, since
their family was enormous and they wanted to be able to do the Seder
exquisitely, a task harder to accomplish if there are too many people.
The salads and other foods would be arranged nicely onto the table.
The Seder ceremony itself in Leah’s family would be read in a mixture of French and Hebrew. Even
though they were from Morocco, the Seder was not read in Moroccan
Arabic, thus demonstrating how heavily Moroccan Jews of Leah’s era was
influenced by French culture. Like other Mizrahi and Sephardic
Seders, no one searched for the hidden afokomin. Yet, the Moroccan Jews
possess a unique tradition of taking a Seder plate full of eggs, lamb
shanks, marror, charotzet and other items, and spinning it over the
Seder participants heads, while proclaiming, “In a hurry we left from Egypt.”
The women of the Seder would then shout the traditional Middle Eastern
coo la loo. Additionally, Leah asserted that Moroccan Jewish women would
have a tradition of taking a young girl at the Seder who hasn’t found a
lover yet to spill the leftover wine outside that wasn’t utilized for
the Ten Plagues ritual, which was viewed as a blessing that would help
her get married.
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