The Senior Year Seder Spectacular

bloomseder.jpg I tried to be religious at college and while I hit more frat parties then holidays at Hillel, I did my fair share to keep my faith. There were long services in make-shift synagogues on campus, and awkward dinners with friends of friends relatives in the greater Providence and Boston area where people actually came back to the table after the Seder meal (a foreign site to me as once my family hit the matzo, it was a fast feast all the way to the afikomen.) There were valiant attempts at fasting for Yom Kippur and signing off bread for Passover observance; the yeast in Natty Lite beer didn’t count, right? But, nothing was quite like my senior year Seder spectacular.

By April, I had decided that cooking was going to be my thing, my big future plan. Paris and cooking school were coming into focus for the fall and of course, that raised the bar of any and every meal I cooked for friends and roommates. When you put the pressure of chef-dom upon yourself, simple things like pasta sauce, or simple stir-fry became challenges to awe and inspire the hungry masses. So, when the Seder meal was thrown into the mix, I couldn’t disappoint. Luckily, I had a right hand man, my friend Glenn who magically was an ideal cooking partner. Not too bossy, could toss the lead back and forth, and always had a funny solution to any mess, I mean meal, we made together.

j-food-026.jpg We set out to do everything from scratch for ten fellow Jews in my postage size kitchen. With no counter space, a small sink, and a temperamental oven, this would be no easy task. Oh, I forgot to mention, there was no dishwasher either. Anyway, the shopping was the easy part, filling baskets with fix-ins for turkey, (we thought it lighter than brisket) vegetarian chicken soup (yes it is possible) charosets, matzo meal, matzo and other trimmings including a trusty jellied jar of gefilte fish as making that from scratch was just a little out of our league. We passed the tsmisis responsibility to another guest, loaded up on Maneshevitz, and headed back to my house.

With a steady stream of your typical nineties collegiate music, Glenn and I steadily worked, chopping, dicing, tasting, basting, for hours, literally following mis-matched motherly recipes and the JOY OF COOKING. That tiny kitchen had never seen such steam and as guests were arriving, we were putting the finishing touches on the Seder plate. We pulled up seats, and began, Glenn leading, the rest of us following. I was more focused on the food warming in the oven, then the service, that is until a friend produced another item to be passed around the table besides the Hagadah. A few puffs later, my nerves were out the window, and with a renewed and shall we say inspired appetite, any meal would have sufficed. Dayenu!

bloom_soup.jpg Fortunately though, the meal tasted so deliciously amazing even Glenn and I were taken aback. Each bite brought bigger smiles. The matzo balls were light and fluffy, the turkey - doused with a half a quart of orange juice - was moist and juicy, the soup actually tasted like the chicken we omitted. I’m sure the herbs and the four cups of wine might have helped soften the potential scrutiny, but it didn’t matter. Glenn and I had crafted this traditional meal in a most un-traditional space and given our friends a taste of home, and to me that was the most religious thing I could have ever done.

 P.S. We never drank a drop of Maneshevitz, picking a nice red instead. But, a few days latter, after a rather rousing kegger at our house for my roommate Lori’s birthday, in cleaning up, we found all five big bottles drained of their syrupy sweet purple potion. Someone, somewhere must have been nursing a hangover of epic proportions and I guess there’s no better sign of a great party then a fully emptied bar.


Rebecca Bloom graduated from Brown University and has worked in a number of industries; she has trained to be a chef and started a jewelry business. She is now a full-time writer, living in Los Angeles. Her website is