Jenni Frazer
Jenni Frazer

Single-handedly taking Pesach to the next level

This column is being brought to you by the magic of technology. Since I have broken my arm, I am learning about a whole new world of the one-handed — and included in the things that I can do seems to be writing by voice recognition, although it is true that my computer is taking some time to get used to me.

Meanwhile, out in the world of those with the requisite number of functioning limbs, things are going on much as usual. Pesach is approaching at a rate of knots and I have the impression that perhaps this year even more competitive trolley-bashing is taking place.

Those accustomed to what might be called normal grocery shopping may be in for a certain amount of culture shock in the run-up to Pesach.

For a start, we are all spending roughly three times as much as we might do in less frenzied weeks. This is because we are laying in for a siege, and it is necessary to stock the fridge with more food and drink than we could possibly imagine, just in case… well, just in case marauders arrive on horseback, demanding cinnamon balls.

I am at the I-have-no-idea-what-it-costs stage, although I do know that everything seems to be massively more expensive than during the rest of the year.

I am also aware that there are food products which no-one in their right mind, with or without two working arms, could possibly want or need.

Nor do I understand items such as breakfast cereal that has been designated kosher for Pesach. If mama’s little darlings can’t manage without choco pops or fruity loops for a week, then these are truly First-World problems.

However, there is a certain unalloyed pleasure in doing any food shopping in kosher supermarkets.

Of particular enjoyment are the customers whom you don’t know from a hole in the wall, but who make it their business to advise you on every item which you have so far purchased — or which they think you may be about to purchase.

The air rings with gratuitous commentary on your basket containing some matzo meal and a packet of cream cheese.

You won’t be entertaining then, says the man pushing past you.

Another woman is equally dismissive of your brand choice.

Her family, she says, always has the top-of-the-range oil or sauce — but she’s shopping for a seder of 58 people, so she is past caring.

It is a truth perhaps not universally acknowledged, but it should be, that the most competitive shopping interference can be found being carried out, on a daily, year-round basis, in Israel.

I think my very worst experience was in a Jerusalem supermarket, where I found myself standing, dithering, in front of a display of cranberry juice drinks.

A woman whom I did not know approached me suddenly. Was I, she enquired, going to buy the juice? And without giving me the chance to respond, she advised that there were only two uses for said substance.

One is that you can drink it with vodka, she said. Or, she confided, in a voice loud enough to be heard in Tel Aviv, it was especially effective for treating intimate feminine conditions.

Which was I planning? she asked. I beat a hasty and scarlet-faced retreat.

By the time you read this, I can only hope that you should have finished shopping for the festival.

Happy Pesach everyone.

About the Author
Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist.
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