Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we answer questions sent in by confused readers who thought they were writing in to Dr. Yael. That said, I’d like to thank all the readers who wrote in. I’m going to attempt to address your questions, not so much because I know the answers, but more so that I have an excuse to get out of cleaning for Pesach.
I find that I’m very overwhelmed by Pesach cleaning. Do you have any suggestions?
Nervous in New Jersey
What on Earth were you thinking buying the biggest house you could afford? My advice is to not think of it as cleaning the entire house – on a deadline. I say that you should start, a couple of months before Pesach, with something small and manageable, like a single drawer. Take everything out, make piles, scrub down the drawer, and then put everything back in so it’s parallel. Then move on to the next drawer. If you keep doing that, little by little, eventually you’ll realize that you’ve been cleaning for six weeks and you’re still on the same set of drawers, and you have yet to come across something that is actually chometz, or even food for that matter, and you have no idea what you were thinking starting with your pajama drawers, because how often do you change your pajamas?
So you pick up the pace, dumping out entire drawers, throwing out visible food, shoving everything back in, and promising that you’ll get back to them after Pesach. Which you will not, because if you ever had a chance to clean out entire drawers when you didn’t have to, you’d also have a chance to put things away properly to being with, rather than shoving them into the drawer and hoping they’ll find their way the right part of the drawer by themselves. And before you know it, it will be Pesach again.
But my point is that in the end, you’ll come into Pesach panting and sweating and realizing that amid all that fury of dumping and shoving, you didn’t have time to be overwhelmed.
I’m flying to my in-laws for Yom Tov, and I’d like to bring along some food for the Seder. Is there anything I can bring along that will make it through airport security?
Pat Down, JFK
Not really. A bottle of wine has too much liquid, matzah will be confiscated as a sharp weapon, and we don’t even want to think about what they’ll do to you if they find marror. Potatoes, maybe? Last year I ran into someone at the post office putting some stamps on a box of round matzah. Though I doubt it was still round when it got to where it was going.
I’m making Pesach this year, due to an incident last year when my in-laws, who don’t eat gebrukts, received a box in the mail on the first day of Pesach containing what was basically matzah meal. Anyway, this is our first time making Pesach, and I’d like to know what I’m getting myself into. What would you say is the most annoying part of making Pesach?
Honestly? I like that my house actually gets cleaned once a year, and I like that I’m forced to make foods that are out of my comfort zone.
What’s annoying is the part before Pesach where half your house is chometzdik and half your house is Pesachdik. You’re cooking in the dining room or eating out of a random room in the basement, you can’t bring Pesach stuff into this room, you can’t bring chometz into that room, you need to be on your guard the entire month to remind your kids about where they can and can’t bring food, they have more cookies to eat than ever before but there’s nowhere they can actually eat them, and your entire kitchen is Pesachdik except a couple of shelves in the fridge, so you have to take foods out of the fridge and move them around without putting them down anywhere. You spend all day cleaning for Pesach, but have to break in middle to figure out which chometz to serve the kids for supper, such as a random “this is what we found in the freezer” supper that consists of two hot dogs, three chicken wings, three types of French fries and a frozen bag of what was probably once soup. Should we have noodles? We’d have to make them on the travel range, and then strain them off the edge of the back porch without dropping any in the backyard, because the colander is too big to wash in the bathroom sink, which is where we’re doing all our dishes for the week. Sometimes we have to wait in the hall with a pile of dishes because someone is in there. Why on earth did we buy so many noodles?
The cleaning itself is okay, though.
My neighbors have been telling me that they already started cooking for Pesach. Should I be worried?
E.H., Edison, NJ
Dear E., Yes, definitely. OCD is not a joke, and you should definitely be sensitive to their condition. As far as your own situation, it’s an 8-day holiday, and you’re allowed to cook on most of it. How much can you eat, really? Apparently, some people do nothing on Pesach but sit around and eat for 8 days straight. “Keep eating. I was cooking for 2 months, and no one is going to want to eat this once Pesach is over!”
My kindergartener is having something in school called a “chometz party,” for which we’re supposed to send in any foods that we need to get rid of. There’s nothing I need to get rid of that I have enough of for 25 kids. Should I go out and buy something?
C.K., Far Rockaway
That’s a great question, because all the things that are appropriate to send to a party – cookies, pretzels, and crackers, for example – are not hard to eat up on your own, mindlessly, while rooting around to find something chometzdik to get rid of. So what should you send in? Cereal? Oatmeal packets? Hot dog buns? Breadcrumbs? I’d suggest making the breadcrumbs into chicken cutlets and sending those in. That’ll go well with the kid who’s bringing in macaroni salad.
Got a question for “You’re Asking Me?” Feel free to send it in. But don’t be surprised if it’s all crumbs when it gets here.Mordechai Schmutter
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