Pesach For the Rest of Us by Marge Piercy

Book Review 2009

Before her semi-recent narrative on the Passover Seder, Marge Piercy is a writer I knew of primarily as a poet. Her fiery, intense poetry was brought to my attention by a writing teacher when I was a teenager. And so it was with surprise and delight that I learned two years ago of Piercy's light but meaningful piece on the Seder, Pesach For The Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Own.

If ever a book spoke to an ex-poet/food writer who spent much of her childhood surrounded by Jewish friends and classmates but had little understanding of their traditions, this is it.

Title & Publisher: Pesach for the Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Own, by Marge Piercy. Published by Schocken Books, 2007.

First impressions: A cozy little hand-sized volume with heft in all departments: poems to satisfy the poet, very clear and sometimes humorous explanations of the Seder, and an impressive number of recipes, all written in a breezy, easy manner. The tone is casual, without taking the topic of the Passover traditions too lightly.

Number of recipes: 59, impressive!

Recipes for right now: What isn't for right now? Passover begins at sundown tonight. Here's a few of my favorites: Cinnamon Lamb, Tarting Up Bought Gefilte Fish, New Mother Soup, Ashkenazi and Sephardic Charosets, Potato Flour Sponge Cake.

Recommended? If you're a Jew who just can't get enough of the Seder plate and all it's tales, yes. If you're a Gentile who is hungry for a digestible explanation of the whole Passover tradition, yes. Or switch the "Jew" and "Gentile" in those sentences, still yes.

• Buy the book: Pesach for the Rest of Us by Marge Piercy, $15.61
Get it for your Kindle and read aloud from it tonight at your Seder! ($9.99)
Read the first chapter on Marge Piercy's website

More 2009 Book Reviews
Cooking For Friends by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm
Big Food by Elissa Altman
Edible Schoolyard, by Alice Waters
The River Cottage Meat Book, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Milk, by Anne Mendelson
The New Steak, by Cree LeFavour
Cooking For Two, by Jessica Strand
A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg
Fresh Food From Small Places, by R. J. Ruppenthal
Picture Yourself Cooking with Your Kids, by Beth Sheresh
Eat Feed Autumn Winter, by Anne Bramley
The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet, by Paulette Mitchell
Heirloom Beans, by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo

(Cover Image: photography by Jackie Alpers, design by Archie Ferguson)

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.

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