At Passover, we are called to imagine ourselves as part of the Exodus. To support this, we are encouraged to amend and augment tradition to reflect the times. The Seder endures, but we tweak the Haggadah, we add an orange to the seder plate, and we change the meal to reflect the flavors of both where we are and where we are from.
When my son was born, his father, whose family is from Sonora, Mexico, and I joked that we had made the first “Jexican.” We had a lot to learn about the diversity of the Jewish people, but we were young parents and where we grew up, on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, it seemed like Jews and Mexicans were two separate and distinct populations.
Though the relationship between me and my son’s father didn’t work out, the marriage of our cuisines was a match made in heaven. We had talked about opening a fusion restaurant, adding jalapenos to Israeli salad or Mediterranean olives to tamales, switching out feta for queso fresco and vice versa. And my personal Passover favorite: Mexican Charoset.
This recipe idea didn’t originate in my home kitchen. I first learned about it when Julian was in Hebrew school. As Passover neared, each class was assigned a charoset recipe to celebrate Jewish communities around the world. Julian’s second-grade class was assigned the charoset from Mexico, a delicious combination of the fresh fruits of the region we know and love so well. And of course, Julian was selected to present on behalf of his class and read a short paragraph to the whole school, “There are over 60,000 Jews in Mexico City…”
From that exercise, I hope he learned that even if he finds himself in a strange land, he is never a stranger. He is always at home in the Jewish community. In the diaspora, we carry our traditions with us to all corners of the globe; it’s just the flavors that vary. B’tai-a-vohn!
2 apples (variety is good, like one green/one honeycrisp)
½ lemon, juiced
½ cup raw walnuts
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Dice apples and pear small and evenly
Add lemon juice, mix well
Mash two avocados well with a fork, then mix into apple/pear
Chop walnuts and dates, add to mix
Sprinkle in cinnamon and stir thoroughly
This recipe takes ingredients common to the Mexican Fruit Carts in Los Angeles and dices them small to create a tangy, chunky salsa. It compliments the charoset well and is great for dipping matzah, served with gefilte fish, or as a side salad.
1 medium jicama
1 large cucumber
Any combination of mango, cantaloupe, or honeydew
1-2 limes, juiced
Peel jicama, dice small
Remove some skin and seed cucumber, dice small
Combine about equal parts jicama, cucumber, fruits, and mix with lime juice
Add salt and tajin to taste