The truth is, Passover really isn’t such a bad holiday. I’d rather have a limited diet for eight days than not be able to eat for one, as is the case on Yom Kippur. But that doesn’t make the end of the holiday any less enjoyable. Last night, as the sun went down, I indulged my two other Passover traditions: eating a pasta dinner from Bertucci’s and taking my extra food back to Star Market. After all, if I’m going to be overcharged for the food, then why shouldn’t I take back all the things I didn’t need when the holiday is over? (I like to think of it as my way of sticking it to the Man.) This year, I had plenty of extra food to return — due to the fact that I brought back a lot of leftovers from New York (mmm … mom’s brisket), and the fact that I ate smarter during the week. I brought back a box of Coffee Cake mix, two cans of tuna fish, a jar of gefilte fish, and a jar of jelly. The grand total for all that: $20.15. I’d call that a success. So … Happy end of Passover. Martin: 1, The Man: 0.
Like the youngest child asking the four questions, or the hiding of the afikomen, I, too, have my own Passover traditions. One of those is posting a rant about how much I hate shopping for Passover food. If you don’t know, dietary restrictions during Passover prevent you from eating anything with flour or yeast in it. And if you’re observant enough to keep the holiday, then you need to purchase Kosher for Passover food for eating during the week. While I’m not the most observant Jew 51 weeks of the year, I often joke that Passover is the one week when I find my religion. As a result, each year I have to buy these “special” ingredients and foodstuffs.
Sunday was my annual trip to Star Market to make these purchases (the holiday starts this Monday night), and like in years past, I was annoyed by how much I was being charged to buy food I didn’t even want to buy. $6 for a box of cookies that might ordinarily cost $2.50. Cake mix for the same price, even though the cake is half the size of a normal cake (if not smaller). A jar of grape jelly for $4. A can of tuna fish for nearly $3. And those were the “sale” prices! Yes, that’s what supermarkets do: They set a price for the Passover food, call it a “sale” price, and mark its regular price a dollar or so higher. It’s like they’re capitalizing on the horrible stereotype that Jews like their deals and would rather buy something on sale than if it was normally priced. And then, because we don’t have the option, we buy all this overpriced stuff, which we only need for a week.
When all was said and done, I had spent $50 on Sunday for my K4P food — and that’s not even counting the perishable stuff that I’ll pick up this weekend. By comparison, on an average week, I usually spend about $20 for my groceries (the beauty of living by myself, I guess). So that’s why I saved my receipt. When the holiday is over, I’ll be partaking in my second Passover tradition: returning all my unopened food and getting my money back. The way I figure it, if the store’s gonna overcharge me, the least they can do is take back and refund my money for the stuff I don’t use.
Happy early Passover to all who celebrate. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Manischewitz has added a logo to its boxes of Passover cake mixes, matzahs, and other products this year that says “Over 120 years!” I’m not sure if that’s how long the company has been in existence or how long the boxes have been sitting on the store shelves. (Insert laughter here.) After all, some of that stuff sits on the shelf for a very, very, very long time, and it tastes just about the same on day one as it does weeks and months later.
Ah, Passover food. So bad, and yet, so necessary. I had my annual round of thoughts about this subject today when I went to Stop & Shop to do some shopping for the holiday (it starts on April 8). $4 for 12oz of grape jelly. $5 for two cans of tuna fish. $5 for a box of cookies. It’s crazy, especially because I only need the stuff for eight days (less, actually, considering I’ll be out of town for the first three days). That’s why I always save my receipts — so I can return all my extra food and stick it to the man.
What made my shopping trip today a little more amusing was a (slightly weird) young woman who started to chat me up about how it looked like I was going to be doing some cooking (based on what? Two cans of tuna, a bottle of Coke, some cake mix, some cookies, and some mayonaise?) and wasn’t Passover such a great holiday, and blah blah blah. When I replied that I wasn’t such a big fan of Passover, she started to list out all the things that are apparently “so good” about it, like herring (yuck), chopped liver (yuck), fried matzah (not bad), and gefilte fish (alright, that one I like, but as I told her, it’s a food I can and do eat year round). And then she started raving about how great peanut butter and jelly on matzah was, and I said it’s fine for a week, but I’d rather have it on bread. Quite frankly, the only Passover-specific food I genuinely enjoy is the Manischewitz Coffee Cake, which is actually quite good.
But anyway … at that point, because she wasn’t getting the hint, I excused myself and walked off to shop in another aisle. If this woman was trying to change how I feel about Passover — or, more likely, trying to get me to ask her on a date — she failed. I may not be an expert on how to pick up members of the opposite sex, but I can say this: using Passover as your “in” definitely doesn’t work. At least not with me.
It’s one of my favorite Passover traditions: the day I go back to Shaw’s and return all my unopened, unused food. My philosophy on this is simple: if they’re going to overcharge me for food I need for only a week (and that in some cases really isn’t very good), then they’re going to take back whatever I have left after the holiday. Last year I got back $27 for my extra food. This year, thanks largely to smarter buying, I didn’t have as much to return, so I got a smaller amount back. Still, it was worth it. Here’s what I returned:
* two cans of tuna fish
* a box of cookies
* a two-liter bottle of soda
* a box of chocolate lollipops
* a jar of gefilte fish
All that was worth about $15 back in my pocket.
Now, I realize some may say doing this (and bragging about it) is chintzy, or worse, that it confirms a stereotype. I counter by saying there’s no reason why I should have to pay $5 for a box of 24 subpar bite-size cookies, or $2.59 for a can of tuna fish, simply because I have no choice in the matter. Every year we’re taken advantage of on Passover, and if I can even the score by returning what I don’t need and getting my money back, then I see nothing wrong with that.
When you get right down to it, Passover really isn’t such a bad holiday.
But it’s one of the greatest ironies that while we celebrate our freedom from slavery, we do so by being slaves to food. You can’t eat anything with wheat or flour — essentially, no carbs — and if you’re observant like me, you only eat stuff that says “Kosher for Passover” on it and you don’t go out to eat. (Yes, this is the one week of the year when I’m Jewish by practice, as opposed to the other 51 where I’m more a Jew by identity.) Continue reading
According to the New York Times, everyone’s favorite brand of kosher food, Manischewitz, wants to go mainstream. If I didn’t know Manischewitz, chances are no kind of advertising would convince me to buy its products when up against other brands. And since I do know Manischewitz, I’ll stick to buying their products only during Passover. But you tell me: