There were a number of special recipes that I used to make that just screamed Passover. One was stewed fruit compote. Prunes, apricots and dried pears cooked in a simple syrup that included a bit of lemon and cinnamon sticks. My mother ALWAYS made this for Passover. No other time of year. Perhaps because of the “binding” qualities of Matzah she felt that the antidote would be to eat a few prunes. Perhaps because her mother was an amazing chef (she worked professionally at it in a house–although at the beginning of the 20th century she was known as a cook!) who brought many recipes with her from Hungary and made meals with cooked fruits in them. Tzimmes and flunken and the like.
I used to always make the stewed fruit compote. Maybe I ate a small bowlful on the first night–simply to have the taste bud memories of Passover as a child. Maybe to bring back my parents from the dead. Or even channel an earlier generation that died before I could know them. Who knows.
No one else would touch it. No one else would eat from my memory made real. So I stopped making it several years ago.
But in my mind as Passover is soon here I smell and taste the fruit compote my Mother always made and until a few years ago I always made. The prize was always the slices of lemon that had soaked up the various flavors after a few days of marinating!
So I stroll the aisle of the grocery store looking to stock up on the items needed to help make it through Pesach week. I resist the temptation to buy dried fruit. And I walk on by caught up in the memory of the taste and smell and the site of the huge plastic Tupperware bowl my mother always used.