Food Box

The Hebrew characters spell out “matzoh.”

Keeping Passover Kosher

Jews who keep kosher in Hawaii (blessings be on their heads because it ain’t easy, with no kosher groceries, bakeries or butchers and only one truly kosher deli) already know how to acquire ingredients for Passover, a multi-day festival that begins April 7.

(Kosher is a complex set of regulations governing what observant Jews eat; at its simplest, no pork or shellfish and never meat and dairy at the same meal. Kosher for Passover adds an additional caveat: Five grains–wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt–are prohibited if they are moistened and leavened or allowed to rise; yeast and other leavening are out.)

Many Jews don’t keep kosher, but would admit to being “Passover Jews,” who go a little kosher for the festival, which commemorates the events that led to their exodus from captivity in Egypt.

These are the ones now roaming the grocery store aisles, mumbling, “Matzoh, matzoh, where’s the matzoh?”

Matzoh (wheat crackers made under rabbinical direction by techniques that do not allow fermentation), we got. Also almond paste, nuts and nut flours. And shortcut products (jarred gefilte fish, matzoh ball mix, G-d help us).

But ingredients for from-scratch Pesach dishes–matzoh cake flour, potato starch, Kosher for Passover flavorings, margarine, confectioners’ sugar and baking soda? Better hop on line fast (try [AviGlatt.com]’s Kosher for Passover store).

Where to shop:

Grocers. Larger grocery stores generally have at least few feet of shelving devoted to things Jewish. At Safeway Beretania, manager Gary Okimoto said their Aisle 1 placement will grow with what’s called a “seasonal allocation” of ingredients. Last week, however, it was mostly matzoh crackers, matzoh meal and yecky prepared stuff.

Jerusalem Kosher Deli Hawaii (mauka side, Ala Moana Hotel 410 Atkinson Dr.). No inviting cases of meats or baskets of breads, here; just an order desk (call or walk in). But if you phone ahead and ask nicely, they might sell you ingredients from their stores (888-9052).

Health food stores. A possible source for alternative flours (potato starch, not to be confused with potato flour and nut flours) as well as dried fruit, such as dried unsweetened coconut for macaroons.