Talk about your unorthodox Passover seder! While most of Ecuador is reveling in Holy Week pageantry, this Jewish family decided to create a celebration of its own with a Passover seder on board a La Pinta Galapagos cruise. As a little bit of background for those not in the know, the Passover seder is a ritual meal, consisting of an orderly reading of the story of the Jewish people’s Exodus from Egypt, where they ditched slavery and gained their liberty. Each year for millenia, through ceremonies short and long, religious or spiritual – and more matzo ball soup than even Grandma thought possible – families get together so that each one can remember the hardships of slavery and the crucial importance of freedom.
Biblical history that comes alive each year
The Book of Exodus in the Old Testament tells that the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt for generations, suffering from harsh taskmasters, scarce food and eventually, Pharaonic edicts to kill all male Jewish children as a way to prevent rebellion. As the story goes, G-d (written this way in the time-honoured Jewish tradition) sent 10 plagues to punish the Egyptian Pharaoh and his people and then, with the help of servant Moses, parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could flee, before closing it again and decimating the Egyptian troops. Although some modern historians doubt the veracity of some of these claims, tradition dies hard, and this story is central both to Jewish identity and to numerous Christian faiths. It is one of the most important Jewish holidays and a moment in which families gather to share in a festive meal and often, a life lesson.
An improvised seder plate
Every day, the hotel manager at La Pinta successfully faces the challenge of providing world-class service and top culinary treats in a remote location, but some days, guests’ requests require special creativity. The Passover seder, as a ritual meal, includes numerous foods designed to showcase the story of the Exodus, specifically: bitter herbs (parsley, lettuce, and horseradish) to remind participants of the hardship of slavery; eggs, representing the pre-holiday offering from Temple days and, in many cultures, springtime and renewal; a shank bone, in honor of the lamb the Jews sacrificed the night before they left Egypt; and finally, matzah, unleavened bread, considered the key Passover symbol as the fleeing slaves did not have time to bake their bread before running for their lives and their freedom.
In pursuit of matzah
Not surprisingly, some of these food items are hard to come by on an island destination located 600 miles from the continent of South America. But our chefs did their best. Lettuce, parsley, and eggs were easy to come by. Chicken stood in for the shank bone. And, in a great show of ingenuity, spicy Ecuadorian ají, made from hot pepper, magically appeared on our guests’ seder plate to substitute for horseradish. Matzah, unfortunately, was “bring it yourself,” but what better way to spend Passover with the family than on a Galapagos cruise on Yacht La Pinta?
Note: Although none of our ships serves Kosher meals on a regular basis, we are happy to work with our guests to accommodate their special dietary needs. Our Destination Experts can give you further details.