Restrictions have nothing on her.

Who Are You and What Are You Doing?

Posted: June 25th, 2009 | Author: rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

So, you may be asking yourself, what exactly is kosher? Is that like, deli food?

No. Kosher laws, or kashrut are a Jewish system of food laws that entail, among a lot of other things, what one can and can’t eat. For example, anything with pigs are out. Same for shellfish. Meat and milk together are a huge no-no. Milk and fish are ok cause fish are pareve. So are eggs. This doesn’t even touch upon how to prepare food or slaughter cows to make kosher meat. It’s an intricate, daunting, complex set of laws and the vast majority of humanity (including the majority of Jews!) don’t practice kashrut.

Many observant Jews keep kosher, but I wouldn’t call myself overly observant. It’s more of maintaining part of the lifestyle I’ve lead since childhood.

At this point you might be thinking, No bacon? Ever? Or crab? Shrimp? Cheeseburgers?? Poor thing!

But 95% of the time I don’t feel limited by what I can and can’t eat. Rather, I believe it’s allowed for me to eat healthier — kosher meat is expensive, which means more of a focus on veggies and homecooked foods. Which is not to say whenever I go to a friend’s or relative’s for Shabbat lunch it’s going to be a light meal. Ever heard of cholent? Or gone to your great-aunt’s for a family dinner? “Eat, eat, you look so thin!” as she dumps another heap of, in my family’s case, chicken and roasted potatoes and stuffed grape leaves and white rice and perhaps some marinated string beans on my plate, just enough to cover the whole thing. This applies even if your nickname is Shamu.

Anyway, I like being kosher. Sure, there are a billion rules and you have to watch out for not just what you’re eating but also what plates it’s served on or cooked in or prepared with, etc etc to infinity. But I think allows for creativity in addition to its other benefits; what can I do within these parameters? One thing I definitely want to try and make is an authentic banh mi. Good luck to me, since a lot of what makes it so lip-smacking-good is the crispiness of the bacon it’s stuffed with and its contrasting flavor with everything else, I’ve heard.

So we’ll see. I do also have to say that I am certainly not nearly as strictly kosher as many people I know, since I share my kitchen with non-kosher roommates and I don’t care if cheese contains rennet (which is not kosher), etc. Just putting that out there. But I certainly do try, as I have my whole life.

That being said, I am a damned good cook. Let’s see what happens.


3 Comments on “Who Are You and What Are You Doing?”

  1. 1 leah said at 10:36 pm on June 25th, 2009:

    i can’t wait to read more!

  2. 2 Johanna said at 11:26 pm on June 25th, 2009:

    Rita, I will make a sacrifice, and in the interest of your Kosher beliefs, I will taste test Baoguette’s banh mi (or hell, Chinatown’s best) against yours, and give you critiques. As many taste tests as it takes.
    It is a big job, and since you’re my friend, I am willing to tackle this. No, no, no need to thank me…. I’d do anything for my friends. Especially if it involves eating banh mi. :)

  3. 3 Adi said at 11:54 pm on June 25th, 2009:

    I look forward to reading your posts! As a vegetarian I’m definitely used to altering recipes to fit my needs, and it will interesting to see how you interpret things.

    Oh, and I can’t WAIT for the red velvet brownies ;)


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