A Kosher Feast
Last friday my close harmony (think Glee) group was asked to sing at (and therefore eat) the Shabbat (friday night) meal. This Jewish society join together every friday to eat a meal, cooked by other students to celebrate Shabbat. I managed to grab a place next to a college friend who was a Jew so she talked me through the traditional aspects of the meal (the less traditional I was able to figure out for myself.
This may happen every week and we may have been eating off plastic plates and and serving ourselves but the standard of the food was exceedingly high and the whole thing felt like a celebratory feast. Before we started my friend outlined the Kosher laws for me so I could understand what we might be eating.
1. No Pork whatsoever (or for that matter camel or swan) or anything cooked in pig fat
2. No dairy and meat together , so no butter even to cook veg in etc
3. No shellfish
4. Wine has to be Kosher
So we definitely wouldn’t be having spaghetti carbonara or Pork with cider cream
It started well with a glass of kosher wine and some delicious soft warm knotted bread (apparently a traditional bread called Challah) which we ate dipped in either a tomato salsa or a wonderful tangy homemade houmous sprinkled with paprika. It was so good I had to try and stop myself filling up to much on it as I had been warned there was another 3 courses to come.
The next course was brought out in huge bowls for each table to serve themselves and was a chicken broth with huge chunks of chicken and vegetables (you can tell that this is the sort of traditional soup that could be best known as ‘grandmas chicken soup). We were told to sprinkle in these odd looking little yellow pieces into our soup which I don’t think are traditionally Jewish but were certainly delicious, soaking up the soup but retaining their crisp like crunch, like a sort of extra crunchy mini crouton. I was very impressed how they catered for veggies as well (my neighbour was a veggie). I tried her soup (a parsnip soup) and despite the fact it had the texture and look of apple sauce, it tasted pretty good (although the soup chip things couldn’t be added to this soup, it was too thick,their loss). I didn’t eat all my soup, but then I’m not the greatest fan of broth and I didn’t want to fill up too much on just water.
It was a good thing I didn’t fill up because dish after dish piled out of the kitchen and were handed round, they certainly hadn’t under catered! The first dish to come was some of the most addictive couscous I have ever tried. It had little squares of veg, juicy raisins and the couscous itself was flavoursome presumably without the addition of butter. I couldn’t stop eating it. After this came out some really tender chicken drumsticks and thighs dripping with a sweet honey soy glaze. By this time I was getting quite full, but out came beef pieces, which I only nibbled the edge of but enough to know it was well cooked and dripping in sauce and the potatoes (again I couldn’t manage more than one) were soooo crunchy and fluffy – if slightly greasy – (I think I can guess their secret…..fat), possibly some of the best potatoes i’ve eaten in a while, Cauis college take note.
Luckily we had a little break before dessert. Unfortunately I had to sing, slightly regretting the skin tight dress and the food baby I had gained in the past hour and a half. But after a good half hour of singing and jumping around I was ready for dessert. Dessert was more of a milling about affair and less traditional than the rest of the meal (where the student influence took over). There were starbursts, vodka, malibu and an exceedingly good chocolate cake (again homemade). They must have known that after such a wonderful home cooked meal students would need to balance it out the wholesomeness with copious amounts of alcohol and sugar.
All in all I find it amazing that they manage to produce a home cooked meal that any family matriarch would be proud of for so many people. The atmosphere felt rather like the sunday lunch equivalent I had when growing up with my family and the food was exceedingly well cooked. I know I’m not Jewish but please invite me back again.