Until last year, my mother did the bulk of the Passover preparations in our family, which of course included tons of cooking before and during the holiday. We keep a kosher kitchen, and in the basement my family has boxes and boxes of pots, pans, dishes and kitchen utensils only for use on Passover. There are two full sets of everything, so we can make both meat and dairy meals, and my mother had a system that involved dots of various colors of nail polish to delineate the milk and meat dishes (pink for meat, silver for dairy).
Unfortunately, nail polish chips off, especially after years of use, and the system seems to have been less scientific than we previously thought. As my sister and I forged through the first few days of Passover without my mother we found a puzzling array of kitchen supplies marked in a variety of perplexing ways. Some pots were marked with both pink and silver dots. Spoons and serving utensils sometimes sported a P written in permanent marker. Does this mean that it was pareve, or simply that it was set aside for Pesach? Some containers and pots had been marked with Ms, but that can imply either milk or meat. Many things gave no hints to their gender whatsoever. Cooking felt like a giant guessing game as we reached into boxes of supplies and hoped to find something that we recognized as definitively meat, dairy or pareve.
All this got me wondering about how we mark our kitchens and whatâ€™s in them. Do you use those handy (but ugly) stickers you can buy at Judaica stores? Do you have handwritten or homemade labels? Do you buy things in two or three different colors in order to make it obvious if something is one gender or another? Do you just know whatâ€™s what and never bothered to mark things at all? Do you worry about other people mixing things up?
Oy! I may make everything pareve from now until the end of the holiday, just to be on the safe side.
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.
Pronounced: PAHRV or pah-REV, Origin: Hebrew, an adjective to describe a food or dish that is neither meat nor dairy. (Kosher laws prohibit serving meat and dairy together.)