Tag Archives: kashrut

The “kosher” experiment

21 Mar

I will not profess to be eating kosher by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t been eating pork or shellfish (on purpose). I haven’t been mixing dairy with meat (on purpose… mostly…). I have generally been very good at being mindful of those two things.

I shall enumerate my missteps, accidental or non:

  • Days after taking my no-more-pork-for-now vow, I went to a Chinese restaurant and had the most delicious soup dumplings that were very likely full of pork and an egg roll that was very mediocre but also full of pork.
  • At a small diner, I ordered one of the only items on the menu that did not have both meat and cheese  – a grilled chicken sandwich. It arrived on a buttered, toasted bun.
  • The group I knit with meets in a coffee shop, and I had a hankering for a sandwich. I bypassed the sad-looking veggie sandwich for one with roast beef. I peeled off the provolone and ordered my mocha with soy and felt very proud of myself. I took a sip, declaring the soy mocha even better than usual, when a friend points out, “Ooh, I bet there’s dairy in the chocolate.”
  • (I did not, for the record, eat any of the bacon-flavored jellybeans said friend gave me.)
  • I consumed a chicken salad sandwich. On a croissant. After the first, buttery bite, I remembered why croissants are awesome. BUTTER.
  • Today I immediately followed a meal of chicken tenders with some frozen custard, knowing all the while that the meat and the milk would churn together in my stomach.

I’m not beating myself up here. (I know you were so worried.) But the impact this is having on me is to show how difficult it must be to keep kosher, when keeping kosher-style is a challenge. When I plan meals I can no longer rely on many of my old standards, since bacon and I were an item and dairy and meat go together like peas and carrots, in my opinion. We’re eating more vegetarian food because I’d rather give up meat in a meal than dairy.  It is obvious that changing one’s diet for one’s religion makes a huge impact. I definitely have a newfound respect for the practice of kashrut.

But then, I also have a newfound sense of, “Why the heck?” Because, you know, chickens don’t make milk. There’s no danger that you’ll ever cook a chicken in its mother’s milk. The infinite number of possible rules that have been developed surrounding mixing meat and milk in particular make my head spin. Seriously, just look at the Wikipedia entry on the topic. It’s not even like the rabbis agree on this stuff, either. The fact that there are so many rules, and some sort of loophole for almost every rule makes me think it’s all just an absurd practice.

I understand the basic idea about forbidding pork – the pagans sacrificed pigs, so let’s not raise any to eat just in case we’re tempted to sacrifice one – but, at the same time, haven’t we gotten beyond that by now? No one’s sacrificing anything. The temple sacrifices no longer happen because there is no temple.

Obviously, me and Orthodoxy would probably never get along.

And this is not even getting into ethical eating, which is another post entirely.

I am not sure how things will proceed in the future. On the one hand, I love this constant vigilance. On the other hand, it seems so silly when there are other ways I could assert my faith. What matters most to me? I still haven’t figured it out, and imagine it’s going to be ever-evolving anyway.


The B Word

30 Jan


Bacon stopped me from pursuing Judaism long ago.

Bacon now makes me feel guilty and just does not taste as good as it used to. I may lick the fragrant, smoky, salty grease from my fingertips, but I do not enjoy it.

Bacon and I had a last fling the first couple of weeks of the year of 2011, and since my heart was no longer into it, I was left feeling more empty than full. Dirty in ways beyond having lips rimmed in fat and splatters on my shirt.

Bacon and I are breaking up. The rest of the pig and I are breaking up, as well. And I am trying my darnedest to keep milk and meat separate. Shellfish and I have also called it quits. My attempts at being a good Jewish person are leaving broken hearts in my wake.

Bacon is the easy part. It’s easily identifiable, though I’ll need to be aware of bacon stealthily inserting itself in places. Our mutual friends – mayo, vegetables, eggs – will have to decide if it’ll be me, or bacon. It will be harder to keep an eye out for those little bits of dairy lurking in places such as bread. (For example, I made buns intended for hamburgers – note that I did not say cheeseburgers – and had to think to omit the milk in the recipe.) I will need to be vigilant and steadfast. While I will be tempted by such combinations as chicken, bacon, and cheese, I need to remember that we had our fun together. It was good while it lasted, but I’ve grown beyond it.

Bacon, as Sarah said to Jareth in Labyrinth – you have no power over me.

Bacon, we had a nice run of it. I’ll remember you fondly, and no one will ever take your place in my heart, though I may eventually take some sort of anti-cholesterol medication to eradicate the last sediments of our life together.