Passover was always a traumatic holiday for me because it was when I would watch my mom get high. Her drug of choice: Chrain, the so-bright-red-it-must-be-artificial-yet-it's-not condiment of horseradish blended with beets and vinegar, served traditionally with gefilte fish at a Passover seder. She would dip her spoon in the stuff and swallow. The high came fast: rivers of tears and snot flowing down her face, whooping and gasping and crying, followed by an "Oooh MAN that's hot!!", a brief intermission for cleanup, and then it would start over.
I was reminded of this traumatic chapter of childhood this evening when I started to make my own. The gentile prepared horseradish you buy for your roast beef sandwiches and bloody marys has nothing on homemade chrain. They say that fresh horseradish can vary in heat depending on the time of year you harvest it, but I have never known it to be anything less than hotter than fucking hell. I grated about 10 inches of peeled horseradish root in the cuisinart and then processed it with some of my homemade pickled beets from last summer. Before I had a chance to try it, the chrain settled into my eyes and sinuses and I was gasping for air. Seemed like a stupid thing at that point to put it to my lips, but, well you know where this is going. It singes everything from the inside, elevates your heart rate, dulls then heightens all your senses, and suddenly it's gone. And there you are, holding a spoon in one hand and a napkin in the other, sopping up your nose and moaning for mercy as you continue to sample your demise.