- For karpas, a vegetable appetizer in a dip, we use different kinds of vegetables and different kinds of dips. Each dip has some sort of educational of symbolic value. This year it's:
- Strawberries and bananas dipped in chocolate. These are generally considered fruits, but in fact their berakha is "ha-adama. " Great teachable moment (I've heard that R. Teitz of Elizabeth, NJ used to do this, for that very reason).
- Artichoke - same reason, and also because we're having Seder with my gourmet sister-in-law.
- Potato latkes in applesause - that's just becuase it's fun and yummy.
- Celery in peanut butter - celery is a traditional karpas food among Ashkenazim, and peanut butter is so that my kids have very clear memories that our family custom is to eat peanut products on Pesach and not treat them as kitniyot. (see Igrot Moshe OC 3:63).
- Parsley in saltwater, because that's what my forebears did.
- For marror:
- I accept Ari Schaffer's contention that horseradish is a relative latecomer to the marror menu and is likely not a true species of marror. It is increasingly common for poskim to recommend making the berakha of al akhilat marror on something in the lettuce family (several Israeli poskim say this, and I've heard that R. Schachter and R. Willig at YU rule this way as well).
- Nevertheless, I have horseradish with korekh. After all, the Seder is about preserving and continuing memories, and I do not want to forget - or want my kids to forget - the centuries of sojourning in those cold Ashkenazic lands.
- So what do we make the berakha on? Prickly lettuce (lactuca serriola) and bitter lettuce (l. variosa). It grows wild, as a weed, all over the place. I found enough in my (admittedly overgrown) backyard for the Seder. This is a really interesting plant that has a long history and some fascinating medicinal properties.
Strawberries and bananas dipped in chocolate, ready for use as karpas
Lactuca Serriola growing, picked, and in my son's hands