Chametz-Free NYC, Day 3: When We Screw Up
Editor's note: For eight days I'll be keeping a diary on eating well in New York while staying kosher for Passover. The goal: never feel hungry or desperate enough to touch matzo unless I want to. For the rules I'll be keeping, see here. All remarks and recommendations are personal and not intended as religious/cultural commentary.
Sunset today marks the first night of Passover, which means it's time to kick this chametz-free thing into high gear and start planning for a week without wheat. If you're keeping kosher for Passover you're likely going to Seder tonight, so I'm taking a day off from restaurant specifics to discuss something more general.
I remember last year when I had a meal at Ilili, a fashionable Mediterranean restaurant I'd recommend for vegging up without missing out on bread and its discontents. We had a mezze platter in front of us and a basket of thin pita for the non-kosher for Passover eaters at the table. I watched a friend swipe up some yogurt with his pita and instinctively did the same.
What do you do when you've accidentally eaten some chametz during Passover? Do you shrug it off and move on? Consider the meal a loss and reach for some bread and butter? And what's your uh oh moment like? Do you tell everyone you've screwed up? Do they notice? Can you pretend to just move on?
I don't know why screwing up makes me feel so guilty. I didn't run over or squirrel or tell a bad lie. But it does all the same, and I wind up going home and eating repentance matzo until I climb out of the foul mood. I wonder if I should give up now that I've "ruined it."
Short of only eating with those also keeping kosher for Passover this week, I don't think there's a guaranteed way to avoid accidental screw ups. You eat out with friends and they offer a bite of their breaded something-or-other, or you share a bowl of soup only to realize too late that it's loaded with beans.
So this year I'm resolving to accept that it's not a perfect diet, and to do my best to be mindful in spite of it. I'll try to treat the experience like a cumulative one of good practices, not an all or nothing purity test ruined by a grain of rice. And when I do swallow that bite of pita, I'll try to allow some satisfaction along with the guilt. It tastes amazing on day five.
What do you do when you screw up, and how do you deal with it?