Sunday, April 27, 2008


Given my heritage that traces to India and the Mayflower, Passover is obviously a very important tradition to me. All my travels meant that I haven't gotten a chance to celebrate in a few years, so it was really important to me to attend a seder this year. But why attend when you can host? I spoke with 1.5 Jewish friends out here, and STEP Seder 2008 was quickly born.

I have been very spoiled in my seder experiences to always have ridiculously delicious food. Not wanting to break this tradition, I obviously turned to my Japanese surrogate mother for help. She lovingly typed up all her recipes and scanned in the haggadah. Now it was up to me to see if I could recreate the magic.

I fully subscribe to the motto of "Go big or go home," so I took on the gefilte fish and matzo ball soup, while my co-hosts Danny and Sarah made the brisket and harroset, respectively.

Okay, so I didn't make the gefilte fish from scratch. Maybe next year. In Jerusalem.

Gefilte fish loaf deemed "delicious" by real Jews.

Matzo ball soup deemed "delicious" by many, deemed "as close as I'll probably get to Mayumi's" by me.

Danny decides if this is how the brisket is supposed to look (the answer is yes).

I give at least 60% of the credit for the AMAZING brisket to Danny's mom, who coached from Chicago.

And from there the event spiraled into a frenzy.

Beginning about 36 hours before showtime, I was on the phone with Sarah and Danny pretty much nonstop. "Um, four more people just responded to the evite." "Is anyone else going to bring food? Will we have enough?" "You don't happen to have a roasting pan big enough for eight pounds of brisket..." "Okay, now two more people want to come." "We only have four chairs." "Does anyone have a working printer for the haggadah?" "Are you kidding me? How are you going to add your name to the evite list an hour before it starts?"

Not to mention the most seder-threatening disaster of them all: The Great Matzo Shortage of 2008. I called about 15 different stores until a lovely woman at the Redwood City Lucky's told that me I was, well, lucky. So I made the drive and found the familiar sight of shelves with nothing but macaroons and a large empty space. I guess I probably should have been a bit more suspicious when the woman on the phone asked me if I was looking for "the kind in the jars."

As the clock ticked down to 7pm, nothing short of a Pesach miracle occurred and somehow it all came together. The guest list finally settled (and came with food!), a STEPpie who's originally from Palo Alto offered her family's table and chairs, and Sarah's parents, who had happened to buy a box of matzo three weeks earlier, supplied us with enough for the afikomen.

The table, ready to go.

Seder plate, complete with genuine lamb shank.

Seder table, now with guests.

Afikomen hunt. Danny (dad for the night) hid it in one of our textbooks--where else?

Kieran sports his prize for finding the afikomen, a remnant from our last ethnic holiday party.

It turned out to be one of my favourite STEP events we've had all year. It was the first seder for a lot of people, but everyone was eager to participate and learn. Of course it will never be the same without Mayumi's cooking, but it definitely made my spring feel complete.


Mom said...

Because Mayumi and Glenn have no children at home these days (that sounds all too familiar to me) we did not get to go there for Passover. We did, however, get together with them for a delicious sushi dinner. It was, of course, extraordinary. We are so lucky to have such great neighbors who are also great hosts and amazing cooks.

Your seder looks great. Bravo to all of you.

Jaya said...

I got no Seder this year--and one of my friends is a Rabbi!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a great thing to have done! And if gefulte fish loaf was deemed delicious, it must not have actually tasted like gefulte fish, hahaha...

Teana said...

looks like you did a fantastic job pulling together your first seder! congrats :)