I’m Jewish, and I’m hungry: Evaluating Evanston options for Passover

Hayley Glatter, Copy Chief

Subway, Jimmy John’s, Cosi, Einstein Bros, Panera Bread. All sandwich shops. All less than one block from campus.

These bread-filled heavens mock me as I walk past. The sourdough rolls taunt me at every meal. It feels like the freshly-baked muffins are out to get me. I’m a tortured soul.

This week is Passover, and I’m bitter about it.

It’s not that I dislike the holiday itself. In fact, I have very fond memories of matzo ball soup, afikomen scavenger hunts and Seder dinners. In my youth (because now I’m almost a jaded twentysomething aka not youthful), I looked forward to seeing friends and family and would practice the Four Questions until I felt my performance would be Tony-worthy.

But then the Seder would end. Then everyone would leave, and by day four, all of the delicious kosher-for-Passover leftovers would be gone. And young me, the world’s most annoyingly picky eater, would be left with nothing but buttered matzo. And let me tell you something about buttered matzo: It gets old. Fast.

The degree to which a Jew observes Passover can vary: Some people don’t alter their dietary restrictions at all, and others follow excruciatingly strict regulations. For my family, leavened products like cookies, cakes and breads are a no-go. We also don’t eat grains like pasta and rice and stay away from peanuts. Others only eat certified kosher foods and don’t eat things like corn syrup.

At home, these restrictions were challenging to follow. At school, I’ve found it even more difficult. Sure, the embarrassingly sparse kosher-for-Passover table in each dining hall is an option, but the lack of variety leaves much to be desired. So, in an effort to rid myself of eating buttered matzo for the fourth straight meal, I sought to part the Red Sea of leavened products in the pursuit of a delicious meal that was kosher for Passover.

My go-to downtown Evanston locations were most certainly not going to cut it. Chipotle, Dave’s Italian Kitchen and Bat 17 were off the table as the menus of all three locations are dominated by carbs. Instead, I turned my attention to Prairie Moon, an American restaurant with a southwest vibe located at 1502 Sherman Ave.

Because my definition of kosher for Passover is a little bit looser than some people’s, there are a number of items on the Prairie Moon menu that I can have this week. I’ve had the New Mexican painted soup before, and the savory butternut squash base mixed with a bit of a kick from some poblano peppers is absolutely delicious.

For a main course, my favorite wild turkey sandwich was obviously not going to happen, so I looked at the salad options. I love the combination of goat cheese and toasted nuts on a salad, so the Martha’s Vineyard salad would make an excellent choice even if I didn’t have to keep kosher for Passover.

There are without a doubt excellent kosher options in Evanston, and for less than $15, I was able to find a meal I would eat with or without dietary restrictions. Plus, if the wear and tear of Passover really has you craving something yummy, Bennison’s is currently churning out some stellar macarons.

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