I struggle every year with the competing demands of my religions (Judaism and baseball) when I try to go to ballgames during Passover– during which I’m divinely prohibited from eating hot dog buns, drinking beer, and buying either peanuts OR Cracker Jack. Obviously this is a struggle that’s been faced by generations of Jewish baseball fans before me, but I feel like no one’s come up with a good answer yet. This year, I have a choice between going to my home team’s home opener in a state of privation, or waiting 2 days and going to the third home game once Passover ends. Which is the true fan to do? And if I do go to a game during Passover, what on earth am I supposed to eat?
Note: any answer that denies the premise of the question because ballpark food and beer are overpriced will be unhelpful. The first game of the year is a special occasion, and besides, this is a question of Aesthetics.
Maybe I’m just cranky, but, Passover or not, ballpark food isn’t just overpriced, it also sucks. Sure, there is the rare exception– Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards, the Garlic Fries in San Francisco– but, for the most part, even the things that should be good aren’t. The Shake Shack stand at Citi Field is trying, but it’s lousy compared to the other Shake Shacks in the city, and it takes 4 innings of waiting on line to get your food, so what’s the point? I’m just as tempted as anyone else by an “authentic” Philly cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park, but I’ve been disappointed one too many times by “local specialties” that turn out not to be. There is nothing you can get in a ballpark that you can’t get, ten times better and for half the price, somewhere else– anywhere else. And I hate missing half the game waiting for the privilege of feeling robbed.
In that spirit, I believe Passover doesn’t need to be a reason for deprivation– instead, let it serve as the inspiration for creativity. I know a lot of stadiums have restrictions on what kinds of outside food you can bring, but I believe most allow for at least something. Hence, my Passover Guide to recreating your favorite ballpark treats:
1. A matzoh ball– cut in half, and pounded flat– sounds like a hamburger bun to me. Get the burger, take it out of the bun, put it in between your matzoh ball halves– delicious. Maybe. Put some charoset on it, if you want to add flavor and can’t find a kosher for Passover ketchup. (That link is to a terribly unattractive picture and description of charoset. Charoset, a mixture of apples, wine, and nuts, is actually pretty delicious. Describing it as a “sweet, lumpy paste” and including a picture that looks like dog food, not so much.)
2. Craving Cracker Jacks? Even better, how about some matzoh brickle, broken into pieces and thrown into a ziploc bag. All the same sweet, sticky, toffee goodness, without angering God.
3. Hot dog… take it out of the bun, and wrap it with some leftover brisket. Smuggle in some horseradish for dipping. I actually want to try this, now that I’ve invented the idea.
4. French fries. Potatoes are kosher for Passover. Enjoy. You can even do cheese fries, assuming whatever they make the fake cheese out of is actually cheese and not some sort of orange-dyed cornstarch slurry.
5. You may think the best Passover substitute for a baseball is a matzoh ball, but it’s actually gefilte fish. And imagine the movement you can get on the ball if you dig your fingers into the slimy, gelatinous outer layer of the gefilte fish ball.
Good luck, and chag sameach,
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