Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kitni-Don't!

If you come to Israel and visit any random supermarket at Pesach time, you will likely see this: Squinty-eyed people looking intently at products that you can't believe someone was actually paid to produce, like palm oil with actual palm floating on the bottom (Guaranteed to give you a heart attack in minutes!), or mayonnaise, which is an unnatural aberration to begin with, and the Pesach version resembles something out of a horror movie ("The Rokeach Blob that Ate Manhattan"), or "cookies" which, in my opinion, are neither "cook" nor "ies." The reason for the squinty-ness is that us poor, pathetic, unenlightened Ashkenazim are trying, for the life of us, to figure out whether the damn thing CONTAINS KITNIOS!!!!! You see, in Israel, many people - we'll call them "normal" - have figured out that, hey, just because a bijillion years ago there was corn flour stacked next to the wheat flour, that does not actually mean that corn is chametz! There are therefore many kitnios-containing products here. These lucky folks can merrily trip down the aisles, giving the packages a quick once-over to make sure they say the word "Pesach" somewhere, and then simply toss in the goodies without a second thought. Not us Ashkenazim. To make it even more difficult, there is no "industry standard" (that would be a shout-out to Ahava's new blog, www.onlineitallmatters.blogspot.com) for declaring whether a food does, in fact, contain the dreaded kitnios. ("Oh no! This grain of rice's ancestor may have at one point spoken to a stalk of wheat somewhere in a silo deep in Poland!") Some packages say "For kitnios eaters only." Bad. Others say, "No kitnios in here!" Great! Others say nothing. Hmmm. There was a "Get Ready for Pesach in Israel" session with a local Orthodox (aka "dati") rabbi two nights ago, but I'm in my pjs by 4:30, so that was just not happening. Instead, we're doing the Squint and then making it up as we go along. At least the making it up part we're used to.

6 comments:

Risa said...

Poor Gila! I totally sympathize with your plight. If it makes you feel any better, you can laugh at us Americans when you're eating chametz again a full day (plus time difference) before us. (See my comment on a previous post of yours.) Shouldn't there be some kind of heter to eat kitniyos as long as you're in Israel on Pesach? Lastly, don't you feel really bad for those who don't eat "gebruchs?" Chag Kasher V'Sameach.

Ahava said...

Everything in Israel has peanuts and sesame seeds in it no matter what. Discuss.
Thanks for the shout out, btw.

Yael said...

You probably want to make a trip to a haredi store (to find kitniot free oil, mayonaise, ketchup,etc). We are planning to try cheaperkol.

Leezy K said...

But, at the end of the day - we only have one seder!!! Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Ahava said...

I'm with Leezy. Not with her, with her, which is where the bitterness comes from, but with her in ideas.

Arica said...

I wanted to vomit when I saw the palm oil(I am not sure why they call it oil since it is all white and congealed. GROSS!!! And you didn't mention the "margarine" that doesn't need to be refrigerated! Double vomit! Suddenly eating matzah doesn't seems so bad! Happy Israeli Pesach!