In a few short days it will be spring, and with it come the ancient spring festivals of Easter, celebrated by Christians around the world, and Passover, celebrated by Jews around the world.
Passover is significant in that the Jewish people were brought out of slavery in Egypt and delivered safely to the “promised land,” thus becoming the first major festival to celebrate the survival of the Jewish people as a whole.
Being Jewish, I can recall the great festive meals (Seder) of Passover, recalling the drama of the exodus, we would have during my childhood.
We would gather around the large dining-room table at my Uncle Abe (my father’s only brother) and my Aunt Mildred’s house, the only family members to have a table large enough to sit my father’s siblings and all of their children.
With awe we children listened to the adults retell the story of the Exodus.
As the years passed and cousins left for college or got married and held their own family meals, the Seder would move to a different home that had a smaller dining-room table that could now fit the family’s diminishing size.

Symbolic foods
The culinary obligations of the holiday were intriguing to me even as a child: why we almost always eat lamb; why we eat ritual foods that symbolize the first fruits of spring; the “haroseth,” symbolizing the bricks and mortar the Jews were forced to use as slaves; and the salt water for the tears they shed.
The eating of only unleavened bread (matzoh) during the eight-day celebration of Passover is perhaps the most symbolic. The dietary law that forbids eating of fermented grains or leavened bread is meant to recall the haste with which the Jews departed Egypt, leaving no time for the usual rising of the bread they took with them in the Exodus.
Fermented-grain products and the use of any additives that help accelerate the fermentation of grains is forbidden.
Matzoh, which is made of flour and water, is quickly mixed and placed in the oven within 17 minutes, under the time considered required for fermentation to begin. Thus, matzoh flour is permitted, while regular flour — ground from fermented wheat or other grains — is not.

Gluten-free
The flourless chocolate cake recipe uses ground nuts as a matrix for binding the other ingredients together. The macaroons use only egg whites, sugar and coconut.
Gluten-intolerant people will relish eating both the flourless chocolate cake and the macaroons.

KAREN BINDER owns Madison Park Cafe.