Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Food Glorious Food...!

Ok, so, I lied. This post isn't about Egypt and the Israelites. Instead, I saw Abandoning Eden's blog, where she spoke about food and this led me to post my own food experiences...

I don't keep kosher anymore. Oh, don't get me wrong, I eat kosher food. All the time. In fact, it's pretty much all I have access to, but if I'm hungry, I won't say no to a non-kosher plate of food (except pork and prawns) if I like the look of it.

Why no pork? There's just this huge psychological block for me. My girlfriend wonders why I won't try it if I'm "not Jewish anymore" and I just say it's a 'cultural taboo.'

Why not prawns? On top of them being Not Kosher, I just don't like the look of them.

Now that I recall, the first time I had non-kosher food, was a few months ago at a careers fair. I was wearing my kippa at the time, and I could therefore be identified by all the Jews around - luckily, there was only one other Jew, so I wasn't worried.

I didn't even know what I was about to eat at the time. It was one of those tid-bits that comes on a plate with toothpicks all carried by a waiter, whose usually dressed in white and black and always wearing a jacket. Posh, non? It was a spring roll. My kosher food experiences taught me spring roll was always vegetable based with absolutely no meat in it. Apparently, the non-kosher world doesn't make such distinctions. I was a little taken by surprise as I bit into it, chewing chewing away. This was partly because I hadn't realised there would be what looked like dark meat of some kind, but also because the only other religious Jew present at this place was suddenly next to me and needless to say, saw me eating it.

But I didn't care. I was hungry. It was lovely. I still don't know what meat was inside. The other Jew was on his way out, so still chewing I waved bye-bye, non-kosher tid-bit in hand. By the time I swallowed he was gone - and there were no real Jews in the room anymore.

The next time was several months later but only a short while ago, when I was with my non-Jewish girlfriend and we ordered a Chinese take out. I had shredded beef in chili sauce. I hesitated for only a second before eating it. It wasn't as good as the Kosher stuff, I have to say. But then, girlfriend said her food tasted yucky too, so it's probably the place (everything about it looked really nice, including the food!) rather than the food. In case anyone's wondering though, kosher and non kosher beef taste the same, feels the same, for all I know could be the same.

The next day I met her parents for the first time and was offered lunch, which I agreed to. Either that or starve. There was soup, bread, a variety of cheeses, and together with lox was an unidentified white meat which I assume was ham. I had soup (yummy! just like my mother makes it, actually...) and cheese and bread and was happy with that. Despite my girlfriend offering me ham, I said no (she knows full well I won't touch it...!)

I've also tried non-kosher stuff at the school cafeteria, absolutely gross. I had vegetable quiche (eurgh. It tasted like how I imagine soggy cardboard soaked in muddy water would taste) and lettuce. I had a bite before checking if there were any creepy crawlies in it. I found one. It still haunts me.

As you can see, it's been a bit hit and miss for me so far...


Anonymous said...

Everytime I've ventured to try non-Kosher food it was always discusting. I tried a real sausage roll (always wondered what the real thing tasted like) and hated it. KFC was bland. A chicken sandwich from a cafe sucked.
Eventually I took it as a sign. At least now I dont feel like I'm missing something.

I also have the mental block with pork and shrimp though.

abandoning eden said...

I think spring rolls usually have pork in them...

so you've only had non kosher food like 3 or 4 times? I didn't try pork products until 10 years after I stopped keeping kosher (and actually until a few months ago)

Dave said...

There are many many horrifically bad cooks in the world.

This has nothing to do with whether the food is Kosher or treif.

Would you think it reasonable for someone to condemn all Kosher food as terrible if their only exposure was the occasional bowl of burned Cholent?

If you want to try food (whether it is an ingredient, or a cuisine), you are well served to try to find a local source which uses quality ingredients and knows how to cook them.

For many parts of the world, you can tap into a different part of the web community, and get recommendations. For food, I'd generally look at eGullet for recommendations.

Jewish Sceptic said...

I tried the kosher KFC in Israel once, it seemed ok. It wasn't an exquisite Italian dish, no, but then that's to be expected.

abandoning eden
I asked the girlfriend about that and she said it's usually vegetarian, but if it has meat inside could be anything.
It could well have been pork, because it was minced and I didn't recognise any beef-taste...but that could have just been because of the other stuff inside it...

I guess we'll never know for sure!

Of course, that's right. It all differs! I've tasted some pretty average Kosher food too! Relative to kosher food, of course.

lost and not yet found said...

Love your blog, look forward to seeing more posts.

About food, I know what you mean. The only thing close to non-kosher food I had was some chocolate and that was OUD. It was worth getting pass the brain block [omg, it's not kosher] for it though. Mmm chocolate. :]

Frank said...

Hello. Very enlightening blog. You have opened a feed and is not discussed on or off line. Kosher is realtive to the orientation. To the previous commenter "Lost" to him or her OUd is crossing the line. On a recent visit to Dallas Texas I was told by a new acquaintance "We keep kosher, we only eat fish out". AS for me I just can't bring myself to eat pig or shellfish. Though I was told by a friend that lobster taste like a very delicious mashed potato. I do not like any type of fish soup/chowder. McDonalds 1/4pounder w/cheese is very good but LDL & triglycerides have have closed that chapter

Dave said...

If someone says that Lobster tastes like a mashed potato, they have either never had fresh lobster prepared even competently, or they need to tell me where they buy their potatoes.

SDR said...

You're all such good goyim!!!! HOORAY 4 U!

Dave said...


A little respect for proper terminology.

If any discussion were going to merit the epithet "Apikores", this would be the one.

Jewish Sceptic said...

Abandoning Eden,
well, I have non hechshered stuff all the time. But also, I had non kosher sweets today. yummy!

The only block I have is with pork and scary looking sea-based foods.

I dont go out of my way to eat non kosher, I just dont refrain from eating non-kosher these days.

Dave is right, apikores it is. Although if you want to get really technical, we're actually minim. Oh well!

Dave said...

In this case, I was thinking of the root of Apikores, which is Epicurean. It seems particularly apt.

Jewish Sceptic said...

Mm. Maybe! Depends how hedonistic I'm feeling...

Dave said...

Maskil would also work, although whether it would be an early Maskil or a later Maskil would depend on your opinion of Yiddish.