If I were to focus strictly on my parents, ignore the entire background of this place, and let the clutter and the smell of it just fall away, this could take me back to a different time, a time in my childhood, when our kitchen table was set for the Passover meal. What comes back to me first is the tinkle, as my father finished blessing the wine, and clinked his glass against hers, against mine.
I remember: the table was draped, all the way down to the floor, with mom’s best, rarely used tablecloth, made of the smoothest ivory satin you ever touched. Dad sat at the head of the table, mom to his right, I opposite her.
All day long she had been cooking, which infused the air with a wonderful aroma. In it you could detect a sharp whiff of horseradish and of gefilte fish and sweet brisket and red cabbage and roasted potatoes, all of which made my stomach growl. It went on growling until he finished reading the long, archaic text in the Hagadda, which meant little to me, except a vague notion of the utter futility of patience.
I remember: my mother ladled the clear, golden chicken soup and set it here, steaming before my eyes, with three matzo balls floating inside, which was her way of giving. “It’s hot,” she said. “Make sure to blow on it first.” Yes, the smell of her cooking was good, but then, the taste! Just wait till you took the first bite—