This year there were eight people at the seder, four of whom had not been to a formal Passover seder before. It was a grand seder, the discussion was stimulating, and the people were great! Among the things I learned:
– In archeology, just say “I discovered evidence of a low wall.” No one will contradict me.
– In Egyptian hieroglyphics, names were written in cartouches to magically protect them.
– Pennsylvania is a commonwealth, not a state.
– If an elevator gets stuck, check if there’s a ghost inside before you start opening doors.
You can see the conversation was free-ranging indeed!
In 2013 and 2014, the first night of Passover (Erev Pesach) will fall on a Monday night again; it won’t be on a Friday night until 2015. I don’t know if I’ll host a seder those two years. In 2010 and 2011 Erev Pesach was also on a Monday night, and only four people attended, including myself. I’ll have to see if I want to put in this level of effort for potentially so few people. Maybe I could go to someone else’s seder for once.
In the meantime, here are my meal notes for future seders:
– Too much food! I cooked for 11, there were 8, and I had enough leftover food for 15. The only “reasonable” amount of food was the chicken soup. A pound of carrots, a pound of pearl onions, two potatoes worth of latkes, and three apples worth of kugel is enough for 8. If I cook for 4, I’ll need even less!
– If I cook potato latkes again, grate the potatoes and onions finer in the food processor, and add at least as many eggs as potatoes; soak up any excess fluid with matzoh meal. When frying latkes, a single thin layer of oil is quite enough; a 1/4″ of oil is far too much. My scheme for keeping the fried latkes crisp worked fine: drain and dry thoroughly; let them cool completely before packing them in a container; heat & crisp in the oven for ten minutes before serving. Don’t fry them too much; they’ll darken some more in the oven.
– I’ve been cooking the matzoh balls in the soup. This may be a mistake. Next year, cook them separately in water then add them to the soup; this may result in fluffier matzoh balls.
– 10:30 is a good target time for serving the meal. I can put the roast in the oven at about 6:15 and it will be done by 9:30 or so, leaving plenty of room in the oven for anything else I choose to bake.