Those of you who don't celebrate Passover may be just skimming our posts about the holiday, thinking, "Yeah, yeah, this doesn't apply to me." But this post, at least, you should pay attention to.
There are certain delicious foods only conveniently available this week and next. Like hamsters, we run out to hunt them down, and hoard them.
• Cane Sugar Coca-Cola and Chocolate Syrup
Since observant Jews abstain from eating fermented grain products, which include corn syrup, now is the time to find certain mainstream products made with cane-sugar, like they used to be. Chief amongst these is Coca-Cola, which you can find in New York, Boston, Baltimore-Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Another of our favorites is Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup, the essential ingredient in a classic New York egg cream.
Don't think this is for health reasons - in fact such products still contain far too many preservatives and chemicals for our liking. But once a year, we revisit childhood, by drinking coke that tastes how it used to taste. It's not as sweet as its corn-syrup brethren, and there's a faint lemony flavor.
Look for a designation on the packaging that says Kosher for Passover, KfP, or a U with a circle around it and a p next to it.
• Whole Horseradish Root
Like nothing in the jar, whole horseradish root can usually be found at specialty and health-food stores. But during Passover, it's right on the shelf at our regular supermarket. We use it in killer Bloody Mary's, in dressings for asparagus, and to zip up staples like mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and carrots. Try our recipe for DIY horseradish sauce, then make some buttery salsify puree with horseradish.
You hear a lot of people complain about matzo. Truthfully it can be pretty tedious after 8 days, and stale matzo is almost too horrible to contemplate. But the flavor and crunch of matzo is actually a delicious cracker, and the boxes marked Kosher for Passover are usually pretty fresh. Try it spread with a little butter, or use it as a compliment to soft cheeses. For eating out of hand, look for the salted kind.
• Matzo Crack
Yes, we make it at home, and don't buy it at the supermarket. But we had to include it here - it's just too good.
Flourless coconut and almond macaroons are a staple on the Passover dessert table. Many people swear by the canned variety on supermarket shelves, but we'll swing by our favorite bakeries instead, grabbing one or two for a great pick-me-up sweet snack in the middle of the day. They're also pretty easy to make at home, and you can use the holiday as an excuse to bake.
• For adventurous eaters: Gefilte Fish
We didn't grow up eating it, but many people swear by gefilte fish. It's a mixture of ground fish, aromatic vegetables and herbs, and matzoh meal, formed into patties and poached in fish stock. Avoid the jellied stuff in the jar, and instead look for the kind in broth, from the deli counter, or a good restaurant.
What are your favorite Passover food finds at the supermarket?
Images: Paradise Circus, Mhaithaca, Romulo Yanes for Gourmet