Last week, we were invited to our friend’s house for his annual Seder dinner. Although this was only my third Seder dinner, it has become something I look forward to every spring. I don’t know many of the stories or the symbolism in the religion, but I love how the meal is filled with rituals that are designed to bring people together.
At the Seder, we all took turns reading from the Haggadah, while big bowls of fresh salads tempted us. Some people knew the prayers, some people didn’t. Often I felt a little awkward because of my ignorance, but this is exactly the intention of a ritual meal. It brings you out of the patterns of everyday life, makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, and creates a common experience between you and your neighbors.
I revel in the reading, the rhythm of everyone’s voices, and the slowness of the meal. I hope the details of this rich tradition are not lost in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. It is such a nice event that brings strangers and friends together and makes them feel connected to something larger than themselves.
Do you know of other ritual meals that focus on the intersection of storytelling and food? Are they religious or based on life stages? Or have you created a unique ritual meal with your family? I would love to hear your stories and thoughts about these ritual meals in our culture today. Until I hear from you, here’s a recipe for the delicious treats that concluded our wonderful Seder celebration!
Chocolate Covered Cranberry Coconut Macaroons
Slightly adapted from The New Best Recipe (an amazing cookbook!)
Makes about 36 macaroons1 cup cream of coconut 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 4 large egg whites 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ½ teaspoon salt 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (available at health food stores) 3 cups sweetened flaked or shredded coconut 1¼ cups chopped dried cranberries (Trader Joe’s has really good ones!) 10 oz semisweet or dark chocolate
Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together the cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the unsweetened and the sweetened coconut in a large bowl, breaking up the chunks with your fingers. Pour the liquid ingredients into the coconut and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Mix in the chopped cranberries until evenly distributed.
Drop heaping tablespoons of batter 1 inch apart onto the prepared sheets. Form the macaroons into loose haystacks, ensuring that all are the same size. Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown, about 15 mins, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom hallway through the baking time. Cool the macaroons on the baking sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack or aluminum foil with a spatula. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Line the 2 baking sheets with new pieces of parchment paper. Chop the chocolate and melt 8 oz of it in a small heatproof bowl set over a small pot of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 oz of chocolate until smooth.
When adding the chocolate, you can choose to do just the bottoms or half like the ones pictured. Carefully dip the macaroons in the chocolate, taking care not to let them break. If they continue to break, just use a spoon or a small spatula to spread the chocolate on. Place the macaroon on the prepared sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature for serving.
Thank you, Dave, for an amazing meal and for sharing your traditions with us!