Hosting the Last Supper (Part 1)
As we enter both Easter and Passover, we asked our bloggers to give their thoughts on what it would have been like to host the Last Supper. Most people know the story but never consider who the hosts were or what it must have been like to be asked to host the momentous occasion. Our bloggers present their unique perspectives on this idea in two parts. Here is part 1:
If someone were to ask me to envision Jesus’ last supper, Da Vinci’s painting would inevitably come to mind. This classic piece of art is often pronounced and cemented in our Biblical-historical-art memories. Considering this painting is entitled 'The Last Supper,' it's strange that the meal itself is so meager.
This is quite unfortunate, so I offer you some suggestions of what I would serve if I were hosting the last supper. When Jews celebrate Passover (and assuming that the Last Supper was the Passover Seder), there are two main differences that I can immediately identify between Da Vinci’s depiction and how we celebrate. First, Passover is a family affair, and women would have been there, along with children. Second, food would be plentiful, the table overcrowded, and the tablecloth hardly visible underneath.
For this Last Supper, I would want to feature some of the wonderful mixed cuisines we are exposed to in our East meets West world. As we drink four glasses of wine throughout the meal, we would serve some of the best vintages Israel and Palestine have to offer. Since homemade matza seems too difficult, the store-bought variety will suffice.
After the initial prayers and tasting of the Passover-plate elements, which would include a Syrian-style haroset, we would begin the meal.
We would start with an Ashkenazi (central and Eastern European) classic, a Passover matzoh-ball soup (omitting the leavening agents). Alongside this, we would serve a traditional Persian kuku sabzi, an herb and egg dish.
Moving on to the main courses, we would serve a variety of filling protein dishes. It is ‘The Last Supper,’ after all, so it’s a feast to remember. We would have the signature lamb that would have been served during that time period, this version with honey and herbs. Our table would include a traditional Palestinian dish, maqluba, a meat and rice dish. Not to overlook another Ashkenazi Passover staple, we would also serve an herb-braised brisket alongside a potato kugel. Growing up near the sea of Galilee, Jesus enjoyed a good meal of fish, so we would have some Tunisian fish cakes as well. To provide extra protein for vegetarians at the table, we would serve Yemenite baked eggs. We wouldn’t want to overlook vegans, so we would have some Italian roasted artichokes, roasted carrots, and a beautiful contemporary fusion of new-middle world ingredients, a quinoa, fennel and pomegranate salad.
Knowing how the story goes, I’m not sure anyone would be able to stomach dessert after Judas leaves the table, but just in case they would, we would have an olive oil dark chocolate mousse, a passionfruit pavlova, and a decadent flourless chocolate cake. For those who might want to grab something on their way out the door, we would have some smaller desserts that could easily fit in one’s hand or tunic pocket -- almond macaroons, and assorted fresh and dried fruit along with nuts.
May your Easter/Passover table be full, perhaps with one of these recipes in the mix.