The Jew And The Carrot

A Complete Seder in a Box — Matzo Balls Included

By Michael Kaminer

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Why is this box different from all other boxes?

Because it contains an entire seder dinner.

From Houston, Texas.

If you now feel like the son who does not even know how to ask a question, let us explain.

Houston’s Kenny & Ziggy’s, which “Save the Deli” author David Sax proclaimed “one of the best delis in the country,” was hawking knishes, lox, latkes, and pastrami on web site FoodyDirect, which lets indie restaurants sell to consumers nationwide.

Over the winter, a light bulb went off for owner and deli man Ziggy Gruber: “Since we’re already shipping food, and there are a lot of Yidlach who probably don’t have access for stuff for yontif, why not offer it to them?” he told the Forward.

The result is Passover in a Box, a $399 extravaganza that “not only includes enough classic delicacies to feed 10, but also it’ll save you time and trouble,” according to Kenny & Ziggy’s FoodyDirect page. “Moses led our people out of bondage, so why should you be a slave in your kitchen?”

The package includes (deep breath) A four-pound dinner-cut brisket with gravy or two pounds of dinner-cut brisket and 5 stuffed cabbages; three quarts of chicken soup; ten matzo balls; ten pieces of gefilte fish; carrot soufflé; potato kugel; tzimmis; charoset; horseradish; macaroons; and brownies. The only catch: like Kenny & Ziggy’s, the food’s kosher-style, but not kosher. “A lot of our customers are very secular, but want to keep tradition alive,” Gruber said.

The box includes “all the big hits,” Gruber said. “I didn’t put in things like chicken — to send over a chicken that’s already cooked is kind of ridiculous, and there are a million places they can get a roast chicken. I wanted to include things they couldn’t get, like chicken soup, kugel, tzimmes, stuffed cabbage — which is a signature here — and brisket. Brisket travels well, and not everyone makes a good brisket.”

Items get shipped in airtight plastic bags. “There was a lot of trial and error,” Gruber said. “We shipped a bunch of things to friends and family to made sure it all stayed intact and preserved, and that the taste wasn’t altered.”

Kenny & Ziggy’s Passover in a Box is the first and only packaged and shipped seder dinner on the market, according to Gruber. Though some organizations have offered “seders-in-a-box”, they usually include items like haggadahs, a seder plate, and instructions rather than food.

Are people shocked that such authentic-tasting, painstakingly prepared Ashkenazi standards come from Texas, territory better known for BBQ and Mexican fare?

“People are shocked it’s in Houston,” he laughed. “We get a ton of calls from people every day who want us to open in NYC. But I’m a third-generation deli man. We’re very traditionalist.”

In fact, Gruber thinks his brand of old-school deli will outlast the new generation of “trendy” delis.

“There are a lot of nouvelle delis trying to sell this fusion Jewish cuisine. That’s nice, but it’s trendy. And in 10 or 20 years, you probably won’t even see them. When I go for Chinese or Italian, I don’t want fusion. I want the real deal.”

Order deadline for Passover in a Box is April 6.


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