My son Eric, who lives on the other side of Canada, decided last-minute that he’s coming home for Passover this year. It’s the first time he’ll be home in six years.
He wants us to meet his new girlfriend, whom we didn’t even know existed till now. Other than she’s fabulous, Eric gave us two pieces of information about her: she’s Asian and vegan.
How my son, the carnivore who went to Hebrew school, ended up with a vegan, Asian girlfriend is beyond me! It’s a lot to take in, but we’ve decided to band together and make this a positive experience.
So my brisket, turkey, chicken soup and gefilte fish menu needs some tweaking. But how? I’m not even sure exactly what vegan is! Help!
Dear Last-Minute Twist,
Isn’t it wonderful that you’ll be seeing your son after all these years? Passover is a great holiday for family to come together, and if Eric has decided after all this time to bring home his new girlfriend, I think it’s safe to assume he is serious about her.
It says a lot about your family that you have faith in Eric and you’re all willing to embrace his new partner. It won’t be hard to make her feel welcome in your home. Where the food is concerned, there’s no reason to start from scratch. Your menu is set and you can serve it proudly. You’ll make it up with the sides. You have plenty of time to “veganize” them.
Along with your chicken soup, serve a butternut squash soup. Fry up some onion and ginger, add squash to veggie stock, boil and puree when soft. Prepare a nice green salad, maybe spinach with pecans or pistachios, strawberries or another fruit. Make sure the dressing is homemade. Oil, balsamic vinegar and a bit of maple syrup should work great.
Google “vegan Passover recipes.” You’ll be surprised at the variety. Everything from mock chopped liver made from mushrooms and crushed walnuts to lots of kugels and many fancier dishes. Your other guests will enjoy them too!
Above all, embrace the holiday with your son and your new special guest. This may become a regular occurrence.
With Passover around the corner, my anxiety attacks have intensified.
I have fallen in love with Kevin but have not yet introduced him to my whole family. He has already met my immediate wacko family, but there’s nothing like the large family gathering at our Passover seder. They’re always fighting, yelling, insulting. They really don’t mean anything by it, it’s just their way. We all gather at my aunt’s house in Richmond Hill, Ont., and from the minute they walk in the house, it starts. “I can’t believe how far you live! Why do we do this every year?” She answers, “Don’t do me any favours. You know where the door is.” Kevin comes from a small family, three generations Canadian. He is not used to this kind of “love.” How am I going to get through it?
Petrified at Passover
Dear Petrified at Passover,
Your story sounds a little like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Don’t be embarrassed by your family. They’re part of your life. You can turn this Passover seder from scary to haimish very easily. As Kevin is not used to this kind of banter, he needs an explanation before he arrives so he knows these people really do love each other and it’s not a battleground.
Don’t be ashamed of your family, they are your roots. Give Kevin a better understanding of your family’s dynamics, who the individual players are, their accomplishments, life challenges and relationship to each other. Focus on the good in them and never make excuses. I’ll bet he sits back and enjoys, and there’s no need to worry about him being bored!
Give Kevin some credit to be able to see your family for the special people they are. After all, you are part of them.