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.
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)