Jewish Life Kolot

KOLOT – How can you eat gefilte fish without it?

By Charlotte “Blu” Berman

We knew that Passover was coming, didn’t we? Of course we did. So why oh why did many of us leave the purchase of such basic food items as matzos and red horseradish until the very last minute?

I must tell you that I was not alone in this. The day of the first seder night dawned. I took stock of the brisket (already made, cooled and sliced in the fridge). The matzo meal, and my mom’s small metal bowl were already cooling in there as well, next to the four cartons of brown, extra-large range–free eggs. I started putting aside macaroons as soon as the stores put them on display. They’re what the grandkids demand from their ever-lovin’ ”grams.”

Paper lace doilies adorned our “special Pesachdik” serving dishes. Great -grandma’s tall brass candlesticks, which had come to America in steerage with my mother and grandma, had been polished to a fare-thee well. The seder table was set for a week already. I thought, the lovely engraved wine and water glasses set an inviting ambiance. But wait, oh my heavens, there was the empty, platter for the matzohs. “Oh Charlotte,” I said to my exasperated self, “how could you be so scatter-brained?” This question was echoed when I saw the glass pitcher for the horseradish devoid of its eye-watering red condiment for the gefilte fish.

Jumping into my sweats, I threw on my still-needed winter coat, gunned the car, and headed for where else but the Taj Mahal of Jewish kosher food. Crown Market. I almost had to fight my way in, past the bouquets of fresh flowers, as dozens of wild-eyed customers jostled each other, asking for a couple of jars of red horse radish. One lady almost elbowed me aside as I neared the refrigerated case.

“I came all the way from Manchester, for the horseradish, and I’m not going home without it.”

One of the clerks informed the ‘farcrimped’-faced (angry) group) that the store was sorry, but they were all out. Not only that, but there wasn’t a box of matzoh to be had. Remember, Crown had huge orders for complete Passover dinners ready to be delivered.

We, the horseradish and matzoh seekers, skittered out the front door, heading for the “holy grail” of the seder meal at the Big Y across the street. Unbelievably, they too were barren.

The only market I could think of that might possibly have been overlooked by “my people” was Geissler’s market in Bloomfield. I got in the car, doused my lights in case I was being followed and turned onto North Main and hit the gas.

Eureka!!! I got the last two jars of red horseradish on the shelf, plus enough matzoh to get us through the first and second Seders. Oh joy…oh happiness…my cup for Elijah runneth over.

That will teach me, I told myself, I’ll start stocking up for Pesach at least right after Rosh Hashanah!

Charlotte “Blu” Berman is a freelance writer living in West Hartford.

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