One of the first steps in any seder is the blessing over the greens. It’s a great kickoff for introducing the seder plate and it contains. Traditionally, towards the beginning of the seder, we eat a bit of green vegetable to signify the renewal of springtime (there are other profound and mystical meanings) and dip it in salty water representing the tears shed by our ancestors, oppressed slaves in ancient Egypt.
During the seders of my youth, my mother would place small sprigs of parsley on our plates to dip and tide us over till “it’s time to eat,” indeed meager pickins’ to hold us over through the four questions, the four children, four rabbis and 10 plagues (and their explanations), charoset, cups of wine (or grape juice) and Hillel sandwiches. Not to even mention everything else that comes before "let's eat!" Oy!
The blessing for karpas is “borei p’ri ha’adamah,” thanking God for creating “fruits of the earth.” So any vegetable will do: celery, onion, scallion, cilantro, etc. The karpas can become a real appetizer, satisfying hunger and keeping the guests sufficiently happy to engage in the rest of the seder.
For our seder, I prepare vegetable trays, containing small colorful peppers, scallions (green onions), celery, carrots, pickles, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and anything else that “comes from the earth.” After karpas we pass the veggies as we go on to the rest of the seder, and no one ever groans “how much longer till we eat?”
I’ll be stopping by regularly over the next couple of weeks to offer tips, recipes and ideas to invigorate and enjoy your Passover. In the meantime, enjoy an amusing bit of Passover Googling: