As we finished the last chorus of “Dayenu,” my wife leaned in, whispering ever so sweetly in my ear.
“Check the salmon. I’m ready to serve the soup.”
We had decided to grill salmon for this first night of Passover. First, it was healthier than brisket. Second, the motley group sitting at our dining room table had so many dietary rules, it would have been easier to herd a house full of Katz. We had vegetarians, lactose-intolerant pescatarians, no-carb dieters, gluten-free allergies, and a teenager who gagged at the sight of gefilte fish.
Third, salmon was only $7.99 at Costco… I mean, keeping Passover can cost a quasi-observant Jew an arm and a leg of lamb. And, as I had rationalized to my wife, didn’t the Hebrews fleeing Egypt grill in the Sinai? Maybe not salmon, but there was an open flame.
As I left the table, it occurred to me that Passover in the millennial age was not your grandmother’s Seder. Everyone today has an opinion about everything and anything. Forget tradition… guests would rather fiddle with their cellphones. All the non-stop mishegas and tsuris could make you plotz… or order Chinese take-out.
The 20-minute service was too long… the 10-minute service was too long… why all four questions? Forget the ten plagues… Locusts and wild beasts were quite preferable to ten impatient Jews whining about the prayer over the wine!
But I digress… back to the salmon.
As I walked onto the deck, I was greeted with a fire roaring out of control. Flames shooting into the sky.
I quickly realized I was face-to-face with my own burning bush. On this night, different from all other nights, I had become my very own proverbial Moses of the suburbs.
Damn! It was that salmon skin that had set the barbecue aflame. The last and most important of the four questions was now mine to answer… how do you grab the salmon and put out the flames before anyone finished their matzoh-ball soup?
As if from on high, the answer was clear… kosher salt! I mean, it was Passover, right?
With Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by my side, and my supersized box of Morton’s Kosher Salt in my right hand, I reached into the towering inferno and hoisted the Ten Commandments, I mean, the charred salmon onto the platter. The box of kosher salt – the whole box – doused the fire, sending plumes of smoke toward the heavens.
Through singed eyebrows and cloudy glasses, I looked at the salmon, its pink, medium-rare flesh shimmering through the blackened crust. It was cooked to perfection, worthy of any Iron Chef or Jewish mother. The angel of salmon cooked to death had passed over my house.
And in my relief that this night would be as I imagined it could be, it quickly became clear to me. I had dutifully followed the most sacred of all the commandments any Jew hosting Passover dinner could ever hope to live by:
Thou shalt not burn the main course. Man and pseudo-vegetarians cannot exist on chopped liver alone.