What is a Bitter Herb?

When most of us think of bitter herbs, that maror, we think of khreyn (Yiddish for horseradish). But when you think about it, horseradish is not really bitter. It is pungent or spicy. According to the Talmud, the correct vegetable to use is lettuce, probably a variety of Romaine lettuce. Indeed, this is what many Sephardi Jews use for maror. Of course, Romaine lettuce is not really bitter either. According to Dr. Joshua Kulp, “our pleasant tasting lettuce is the result of two thousand years of cultivation to improve its taste. In the time of the Mishnah, it was probably far more bitter.”

Bitter Foods Taste Test

Have some of the following foods in bowls for your guests to taste during the Maror section of the Seder (you can also use arugula, broccali rabe, or any other bitter food you can think of).

Which of these foods is the most bitter?

Mark your answer on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the least bitter, 5 the most bitter)

_______ Unsweetened Chocolate

_______ Swiss Chard

_______ Romaine Lettuce

_______ Turnip

_______ Tonic Water

_______ Horseradish

haggadah Section: Maror
Source: White Meadow Temple's Seder Experience