Balsamic Pickled Eggs
As the countdown to Passover begins, I find myself immersed in planning our seder and reflecting on holidays past. I liken Passover to a Jewish Thanksgiving, as we are thankful that Pharaoh freed the Jews from slavery and allowed them to leave Egypt. The foods reflect our exodus: Matzo, or unleavened bread, commemorates the hastiness of our departure. We pulled bread out of the oven before it had time to rise, and Pharaoh had the chance to change his mind. I am always thankful for freedom, family, good friends, wins, and the lessons I've learned from losses. I'm hopeful that my matzo balls will be "floaters," and my brisket tender. That my haroset will be embraced for its mélange of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine, and that no one will miss the gefilte fish, a mashed blend of fish slathered in a slime-like jelly.
I love to reinterpret Passover seder classics, keeping what's great and scrapping what's not so great. I swap pecans for the traditional walnuts in haroset because I live in Georgia and can source local nuts. I replace gefilte fish entirely with smoked trout served over butter lettuce and topped with a lemon aioli. And I pickle hard boiled eggs in balsamic vinegar, turning the whites a deep aubergine color.
For years my best gay boyfriend, Uri and I would host Passover seder for about 20 friends - black, white, Jewish and Christian. He and I met in 1997 when he opened his art gallery, and I launched my PR business. We were - in our minds' eyes - fabulous. Young and driven, we were disrupting our respective industries. We had big ideas, and it didn't occur to either of us that there was anything we couldn't do. His gallery would go on to have two artists in the Whitney Biennial and my PR company would get them into Vanity Fair. We traveled to great places, spent way too much money on shoes and drank Champagne in five-star restaurants.
Religion is a constant retelling and reinterpretation of stories. During our Passover seders, Uri and I would pass around copies of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which feels as relevant recited responsively among our friends today as the story of Passover can with almost any marginalized group. Uri was a strident gay rights activist before we met, and today, we both hold seats on the board of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Over the years our seder table has morphed as friends married and had kids, while others moved away making room for new friends. But we always talk about the struggle - knowing that there are still people being bullied, abused and discriminated against.
Three years ago I met Jeff. Uri had taken a big job in Las Vegas, but he came back for our seder. It would be Uri's and my last Passover together (at least until we can convince him to move back to Atlanta), and he would be passing the responsibility of leading the prayers to Jeff. This new man in my life was a game changer. He was strong, brilliant, funny and kind. I fell hard and fast and, for the time in my life, it was different. He made me feel safe. He turned me on to new things and shared many of my passions for art, travel and food. Above all, he made me laugh - constantly. And he still does today - from the moment we wake until lights out at night. While our guests nibbled on homemade chopped liver and rosemary spiced nuts, my two favorite guys met, hugged, and we all shed a few tears. The closing of this chapter was bittersweet. Yet I was thankful for the new traditions and great adventures I knew I would have with Jeff.
Jeff helps me edit this blog. It's been a great learning experience for me on many levels - grammar lessons among them. I've discovered that, while Jeff is not a fan of my balsamic pickled eggs, he always eats them (he adds: "with a smile on his face"). More importantly - I've learned that Jeff loves gefilte fish, which apparently he's told me every year. So gefilte fish will bump the smoked trout from the menu, and balsamic pickled eggs will remain. It's so easy to submerge eggs in balsamic vinegar for a couple of weeks leading up to Passover, and they look really cool. And as much as I'm happy that some things stay the same, change is good. Jeff - you put up with my dog, who barks way too much, the hours I spend at the barn, and my balsamic pickled eggs, which you eat with a smile. I'll gladly give you your gefilte fish, at least for this year.
Balsamic Pickled Eggs
One 24-ounce Mason Jar
Six hard boiled eggs - peeled
Stuff the eggs in the mason jar. Fill the jar to nearly the rim with balsamic vinegar. Seal and refrigerate for two weeks. Remove the eggs and halve them lengthwise. Serve with the seder plate.