A Story of Food and Freedom

By Julie Wilson and Cynthia Psarakis

Published on March 30, 2007

Aunt Gillies Matzo Ball Soup
Aunt Gillie's Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken soup may or may not be a cure-all for physical and psychic ills, but if you add a few matzo balls it definitely becomes a deli classic. This recipe, from Gillie Feuer of Long Island, New York, was a tightly held secret, until we pried it loose. The key? Lots of veggies, and her light and floaty dumplings: “They’re very well behaved,” she told us. “They plump up just like little dolls.” The trick? “Margarine.” But, she warned, “I’m not perfect. You can see my fingerprints on them.” It might just be the fingerprints that make them so good. Get the recipe for Aunt Gillie’s Matzo Ball Soup »

Spring is the season of rebirth, when nature begins its annual self-renewal, bringing an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to celebrate and savor. It's entirely fitting, then, that spring is also the setting for Passover, the Jewish holiday in which history intersects with cuisine to commemorate the Israelites' exodus from slavery in Egypt to a new life of freedom through a feast of delicious and symbolic dishes.

The main event, the Passover seder, brings family and friends together for an evening filled with ritual, from the eating of horseradish—representing the bitterness of slavery—to the sheets of unleavened matzo bread that sit at the head of every seder table as a reminder of the Israelites' haste in fleeing Egypt. And, as with most holidays that tell the story of culture through food, Passover incorporates a traditional meal of foods rich with flavor and meaning.

If you haven't already planned your Passover feast, try our exclusive Passover-Inspired Menu (for a kosher version, simply substitute margarine or oil for any recipe calling for butter), with dishes specially selected to observe the day in elegant but delicious style. To alleviate any preholiday stress, take a moment to read Chicken Quest, the lighthearted, behind-the-scenes story of Marsha Dick's quest for the perfect entrée to anchor her Passover feast. Then welcome your guests with a glass of kosher wine (find one at local liquor store) or, better yet, cocktails made with kosher Jamaican vodka—read about it in Masel Tov, Mon—and enjoy a memorable evening in good company and good food.

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