Easter Eggnog and Passover PotablesOn March 31, 2021 by Elyse
New holidays, new opportunities to revive the wholesome traditions of yesteryear. . . or count our lucky stars we’re celebrating on Zoom this year:
This is an Easter reminiscence: A downtown family, wishing to celebrate the day by appropriate libations of eggnog, sat about preparing a large bowl of that seductive beverage, from time immemorial held sacred to that joyous occasion, says the Philadelphia Times. They found a recipe for its concoction in a daily paper, and cutting it out, started to gather together the ingredients named therein.
Whiskey and eggs they had, but a third important component was lacking. This was Jamaica rum. The recipe said so plainly enough, but there was another liquid far more closely associated in the bosom of that family with the name of the West Indian island than rum—namely, Jamaica ginger.
If you, like me, are unfamiliar with Jamaica ginger, I suggest you keep it that way. In the 1800s, it was prescribed as a medicine. I doubt it ever cured any maladies, but at 70 to 80 percent ethanol by weight, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had patients feeling better anyway.
It may have been a slip of the tongue, but whatever it was the boy dispatched for the missing constituent of the “nog” asked for and received a liberal quantity of the fiery foe to cramps and colic, and upon his return it was unhesitatingly poured into the bowl. Then the libations began.
“It don’t taste just right yet,” declared paterfamilias: “I guess we haven’t got enough whiskey in it.” So the quantity of “rye wine” was doubled! The taste was still queerer, but no one knew how to improve it now, so they gasped and choked down the whole bowlful. It didn’t take long to get in its work, and in a surprisingly short time there wasn’t a single member of that family who cared whether it was Easter or Christmas.
Next morning they picked themselves up one by one from the casual spots where sleep had overtaken them and with parched lips forswore the foamy drink. Of course they tried to keep it quiet, but—well, children will talk, and now the “ginger eggnog” is all over the neighborhood.– The Emmons County Record, May 27, 1898
I know what I want the Easter bunny to leave in my basket this year.
I’m too late to wish you a happy Passover, but I hope your Seders were as popular as this one:
‘Twas the first night of Passover, and a wealthy Jew invited one of his poor brethren to Seder. When Kiddush was said, the guest, hitherto used to thin homemade wine, was so attracted by the richness of his host’s wine, that he greedily drained the glass.
On being told that such behaviour was not etiquette, the poor man replied, “Sir, when I raised my glass I saw reflected at the bottom of it a likeness of Moses. So eager was I to get to him that I left not a drop.”
Later on the poor man did the same with the second glass, and the host angrily remonstrated with him. “Sir,” said the visitor, “this time as I was going to drink I saw a likeness of Haman in the glass, and I said to myself, ‘He! The scoundrel! Not a drop shall he have.’ So I drank it all!”– The Jewish World, quoted in the Hebrew Standard of Australasia, May 19, 1899
No word as to who the visitor saw at the bottom of the traditional third and fourth glasses. I’m a little offended that no special guests appeared at the bottom of my mine. Happily, that didn’t stop me from drinking every drop.
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Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above sources. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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