Q&A With Levana: Chol Hamoed Passover Picnic Tips

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Levana Kirschenbaum
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Q: I find it very challenging to come up with appetizing, healthy, kosher-for-Passover foods to take along on chol hamoed trips with my family. Any tips? - Faiga, North Miami Beach, FL

A: It can be somewhat challenging, especially when chol hamoed Pesach coincides most conveniently (or inconveniently, as the case may be) with the arrival of spring, with revelers enjoying the outdoors with all their attending treats, with nary a thought about Pesach!

picnic

Yes, I was one of those misguided mothers who took matzah to the circus, the zoo, the baseball game, and the park, and together with other Orthodox Abbas and Immas, bochurim; and kids munching and crunching, we made it sound like there was an invasion of termites, as Rabbi Berel Wein once joked. Oy sandwich, where are you when we need you?My children and their families often spend Pesach with us, and we often plan a day trip during Chol Hamoed. Likewise, I send my husband to work with everything he needs for the work day. 

What is every bit as important as what to take on the road, is what to have before getting on the road. Start by eating a good nourishing breakfast at home, which in one fell swoop prevents you having to take matzah on the road and having to wash for it, and tides you over for a few hours. Try a nice egg dish for everyone, smoothies, some yogurt, cheese, juice, tea or coffee, and matzah.

On the road on Pesach, my first war cry is, first and foremost: THERMOS! So sorry about putting the mom’s needs ahead of the kids’ here, but really, without my coffee on the road, I would be just about useless. So: a thermos of hot coffee (or tea) and hot cups. And one more thermos if you are with small children, for milk. A two-hour trip from Sedona to Scottsdale (Arizona) a couple years ago, with my granddaughter Tsofia crying her eyes out and screaming at the top of her lungs “Baba! Baba!” while we raced back to our hotel amid her unrelenting cries, taught us never to get caught in the middle of nowhere on Pesach without the baby’s food or milk, no matter how soon you think you will get home.

I hope I will not disappoint you by listing some very predictable healthy foods to take on the road. A little portable picnic icebox will be useful here, but is not indispensible. Since our homes are always packed with exciting foods during the Yomim Tovim, where a delicious and plentiful dinner is likely awaiting us upon our return, 

I would keep it very simple on the road, and take only very low-maintenance items. You will hardly feel deprived: 

  • pre-washed salad greens and a bottle of homemade salad dressing
  • hard boiled eggs
  • sliced cheese
  • prepared tuna salad
  • cut fruit
  • dark chocolate
  • mixed nuts

Be sure to pack disposable dishes, cups and cutlery.

On those occasions when we must take food with us overnight, a picnic icebox becomes a must: warming up food on the road or in a hotel room is most often not an option, so: same as above, plus matzah, sliced smoked fish or meat, cold roast chicken, potato salad, even a cold soup. You might come to find these relative “restrictions” most welcome during this week of splurging!

Article originally published in JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller Magazine Spring 2014 SUBSCRIBE NOW

Joy of Kosher Spring Magazine 2014

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