Archive for the 'Diets' Category

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Going Vegan Day Two: Marmite and Grape Juice Stew

Semolina Soup.  I know; it doesn’t look like much.  It left it on the stove for my boyfriend to warm up at lunch, and he threw it away because he thought it had gone bad.  Nope, that’s just the way it looks.

My day began simply with leftover apple bread and hot tea with almond milk.  Almond milk, by the way, has been around a long time: there are recipes for it in medieval manuscripts.

I had to go to work, so I made my lunch in advance: Semolina Soup.

Semolina Soup– 4 oz. semolina, 2 chopped onions, 1 tablespoonful gravy essence, 2 quarts water or vegetable stock

I don’t know what initially drew me to this recipe; perhaps the odd, porridge like use of Semolina, a high gluten flour normally used for pastas.  Or the reference to “gravy essence,” which had a helpful footnote:

There are several brands of wholly vegetable gravy essence now on the market. The best known are ‘Vegeton,’ ‘Marmite,’ ‘Carnos,’ and Pitman’s ‘Vigar Gravy Essence.’

Although “Vigar Gravy Essence” seems to have fallen by the wayside, I knew Marmite was still around (What is Marmite? Read up here).  I had given it a whirl a few years ago when handed a sandwich from a friend who has a penchant for such things.  I’ll try anything once, and after the first bite, I found it inexplicably enjoyable.  I was curious how it would taste as a soup flavoring.
It turned out quite good, so let me give you the expanded version of this recipe:
***
Semolina Soup (Recipe halved, serves 2)
2 oz. Semolina flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoons gravy essence
2 cups vegetable broth (canned)
2 cups water.
1. In a saucepan, sautee the onions in olive oil until brown.  Add pepper and a little salt.  Add broth and water, bring to a low boil.  The liquid should be just bubbling.
2. Slowly add the semolina flour, stirring constantly. I like to use a sifter to ensure a soft, steady stream of flour, which will prevent gummy lumps from forming.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the porridge has thickened to your taste.
***
And that’s all! It was ready in about 20 minutes.  But it smelled really unappealing while I was cooking it.  Perhaps it was too early in the morning? Perhaps the order was mingling with my freshly toothpasted mouth?  I packed it in a thermos and took it to work.
At lunchtime, I busted it out, still warm in my thermos.  And it was delicious!  It was so good, I made my coworker drink some, and she liked it too!  The Marmite tasted meaty, as though the soup had been made with a beef broth.  It was remarkably like french onion soup:  warm, filling, comforting; it made me think of fall days.  I’m planning a vegan dinner party for Saturday, and I’m thinking of serving this as the first course, perhaps with some greens stewed up in it, and a crunchy crouton made with apple bread.
Dinner was Mexican Stew:
Mexican Stew — 1 cupful brown beans, 2 onions, 2 potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 1 oz. sugar, 1 cupful red grape-juice, rind of 1 lemon, water.  Soak beans overnight; chop vegetables in chunks; boil all ingredients together 1 hour.
Mexican Stew.
Again, I was attracted by the unique flavor: grape juice as a soup base?  And what does that have to do with Mexico?  The final verdict from both my boyfriend and I was that it “tasted like soup.”  Good, but unremarkable.  The grape juice flavor wasn’t prominent, but it had a concord grape aftertaste I found unappealing.
Tomorrow, Veganism 1940’s style.

Going Vegan: Day 1, Lunch & Dinner

My first foray in to vegan cookery: Tomato, kale, and spinach soup with toasted pine nuts and raw radishes.

After a mid-morning snack of almond butter with maple syrup on whole wheat bread, I got started on my first vegan lunch.  I was very apprehensive of my first two days of veganism; No Animal Food, while presenting some very convincing points, also presents some truly horrendous recipes.  For example, my lunch of Spinach Soup No. 1

Spinach Soup No. 1 lb. spinach, 1 lb. can tomatoes, 1 tablespoonful nut-milk (Mapleton’s), 1½ pints water. Dissolve nut-milk in little water, cook all ingredients together in double-boiler for 1½ hours, strain and serve.

Most of the recipes in the book are equally plain.  At the risk of sounding sexist, this book was written by a man.  In 1910.  Who was a vegan.  He’s not the first person I would turn to for culinary advice; his collection of recipes are more like instructions on how to make something to eat than recipes for a meal.
I wrestled with how much I would allow myself to alter the recipes without losing their historic nature.  In the end, here’s what I I did:  I added kale in addition to the spinach and two teaspoons of fresh herbs as well as pepper and salt.  I don’t know what “Mapleton’s Nut Milk” is, I think some powder to mix with water, so I used about 1/4 cup of almond milk.  I did cook this in a slap-dash double boiler, a glass bowl set in a stock pot, and in 90 minutes it was tender and soup like.  To add some texture, I toasted pine nuts and added a few slices of fresh radishes.  I feel like maybe I diverged from the initial recipe too much, although I used ingredients that would have been on hand in the average 1910 vegan household.
In the end, it tasted ok.  My boyfriend and I ate big bowls with slices of toast, and it was fine.  Not bad; not great either.
I wanted to make dinner a little more special: I halved a large acorn squash, and covered it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour.  This turned out delicious.  I also decided to bake a bit of bread:

Apple Bread 2 lbs. entire wheat meal doughed with 1 lb. apples, cooked in water to a pulp…prepared as follows: Mix ingredients with water into stiff dough; knead well, mould, place in bread tins, and bake in slack oven for from 1½ to 2½ hours (or weigh off dough into ½ lb. pieces, mould into flat loaves, place on flat tin, cut across diagonally with sharp knife and bake about 1½ hours).

These instructions aren’t as clear as they could be, so here are my proportions (quantities halved):

***
Apple Bread

2 large apples cooked soft with a little water
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat meal
A loaf pan sprayed with non stick cooking spray

1. Pare and core the apples; cube.  Put into a pot with a little water, and cook over medium heat until soft enough to mush to a pulp.  Feel free to use different types of baking apples, some that stay solid and some that fall apart into sauce, to add different textures.

2. Add almond milk to hot apples and stir.  Sift together whole wheat flour and baking powder, add to apple mixture.  Press into a loaf pan and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees, or until done.

***

The bread was a little gummy, a little dense, but somehow really good.  It complimented both the squash, and my main dish, a nut roast:

Nut Roast No. 1 1 lb. pine kernels (flaked), 4 tablespoonfuls pure olive oil, 2 breakfastcupfuls breadcrumbs, ½ lb. tomatoes (peeled and mashed).  Mix ingredients together, place in pie-dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and bake until well browned.

I coarsely chopped pine nuts which added a nice texture; I didn’t have plain bread crumbs, so I used “Italian Spice” bread crumbs, which were delicious.  The tomatoes, which I mashed until chunky, were nice bright spots of acidity.  Basically, I threw all three of the above dishes into a 375-400 degree oven at various times, and an hour later, I had dinner.

Dinner: Brown!  Roasted squash, nut roast, and apple bread.
My boyfriend, a voracious carnivore, dug into dinner with enthusiasm.  “This is delicious! It tastes like fall!  Being vegan is great!” Those are actual, direct quotes.  And I’d have to agree: dinner was really, really good, and very satisfying.  For dessert, we had baked bananas.  Weird looking, and tasted about how you’d imagine: like a hot soft banana.
Baked Bananas- Prepare the desired number by washing and cutting off stalk, but do not peel. Bake in oven 20 minutes, then serve.
It’s not until after dinner, when I was cleaning up, that I thought to double check the ingredients on the “Italian Bread Crumbs.” I was horrified to discover it contained honey, skim milk, and buttermilk.  Crap.  So I messed up day one of veganism; but overall, the food was not bad at all.

Pretty weird…Baked banana.

Going Vegan: Day 1, Vegans vs. Swill Milk

Breakfast

Cereal with Almond Milk and Banana

Lunch

Spinach Soup no. 2
Toast

Dinner

Nut Roast
Roasted Squash
Apple Bread
Baked Banana

To begin the day, we took it easy with a choice of two cereals: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (invented 1906), and Post Grape-Nuts (developed 1897).  My boyfriend has decided to join me on this adventure, as long as I started the coffee pot every morning.

After breakfast, I cracked the pages of the No Animal Food, from 1910.

NAF, which is available in its entirety on Project Gutenberg here, begins with a manifesto.  The author presents the reasoning behind vegetarianism: “Briefly, the pleas usually advanced on behalf of the vegetable regimen are as follows: It is claimed to be healthier than the customary flesh diet; it is claimed for various reasons to be more pleasant; it is claimed to be more economical; it is claimed to be less trouble; it is claimed tobe more humane.”  He goes on to say that above all, this book is written for the purposes of health, pointing at the proliferation of patent medicines and the high rate of tuberculosis as a sign that we on the whole are malnourished.  The following chapters offer Science to support vegetarianism, as well as a list of notable vegetarians (Tesla!), and then a brief essay to support his other “pleas.”  Some of the writing is quite modern in sentiment.

A 19th century milk man distributing "Swill Milk."

Then he begins a chapter on why a non-dairy diet should be accepted.  I was shocked by the contents of this chapter, as it provides an extremely insightful look into the origins of veganism, which were rooted in a very real health concern of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Read on:

“It seems to be quite generally acknowledged by the medical profession that raw milk is a dangerous food on account of the fact that it is liable from various causes, sometimes inevitable, to contain impurities. Dr. Kellogg writes: ‘Typhoid fever, cholera infantum, tuberculosis and tubercular consumption—three of the most deadly diseases known; it is very probable also, that diphtheria, scarlet fever and several other maladies are communicated through the medium of milk….’

The germs of tuberculosis seem to be the most dangerous in milk, for they thrive and retain their vitality for many weeks, even in butter and cheese. An eminent German authority, Hirschberger, is said to have found 10 per cent of the cows in the vicinity of large cities to be affected by tuberculosis…Excreta, clinging to the hairs of the udder, are frequently rubbed off into the pail by the action of the hand whilst milking. Under the most careful sanitary precautions it is impossible to obtain milk free from manure, from the ordinary germs of putrefaction to the most deadly microbes known to science. There is little doubt but that milk is one of the uncleanest and impurest of all foods.”

The impurity of milk, particularly in cities, was an absolutely unavoidable truth at this time.  Pasteurization was not required by law until 1912, and large cities like New York had ongoing problems with “Swill Milk“: milk infected by disease, milk from diseased cows, spoiled milk, watered down milk, doctored milk;  you name it.  Unpasteurized milk was responsible for an infant mortality rate as high as 25% on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The author goes on to give a few other reasons for a dairy-free diet, but this is the most powerful.

So how did my first day of vegan eating go?   Recipes in the next post.

Going Kosher Day 3: Babka and Shabbos

Breakfast

Fresh Fruit
Sardines
Bread & Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Barley
Roast Meat
Vegetables
Bread

Supper

Beans (Baked by Mrs. Paley)
Cakes
Bread
Tea

Mrs. Paley, if you’re curious, was the head of the Ellis Island Kosher Kitchen, although I was unable to find her original baked beans recipe.

Getting out the breakfast dishes on my last day made me a little bit sad.  I had quickly grown used to ritual and the relaxed breakfast my boyfriend and I shared over the kitchen table.  It was somehow different over hurried bowls of cereal.

However, if you think I was excited to have sardines for breakfast, you are wrong.  I must admit, they tasted better than they smelled: the flavor was much like a very mild tuna.  However, I’m also not accustomed to having tuna for breakfast.

For lunch and supper, I wanted to change the menu up a little bit.  This menu is actually for a Wednesday in the Ellis Island Kosher Kitchen and I wanted to keep closer to tradition.  Friday is a special day–sundown marks the start of shabbat.

For lunch, we had Streit’s Mushroom Barley Soup, a kosher, dry soup mix.   It was easy to make, incredibly cheap ($1 a serving) and really delicious.  Who knew?  I am definitely going to make it again.

I needed to measure four cups of water to add to the soup mix.  My metal, two-cup measuring cup was treif, meaning I had used it with both meat and dairy, so I dunked it in boiling water.  Certain materials can be cleaned for kosher: glass needs a thorough scrub with good hot water; a metal fork or knife that has become treif can be cleaned in boiling water.  More porous materials, like porcelain, enamel, and wood, cannot be cleaned if kitchen mistakes are made.  And kitchen mistakes are made: today, while cleaning the lid to my meat pot, I carelessly grabbed the everyday kitchen sponge, not the meat sponge.  One touch to the pot lid and it was ruined.  Luckily, it’s made of glass and metal: a dunk in boiling water, and we’re in good shape again.

For dessert, I busted out our only real sweet treat of the past three days: Babka. I bought a slice of cake from a kosher bakery on a stretch of Grand street that is an island of Jewish tradition.  I walked into the shop, cakes behind glass displays calling my name.  A round woman with jet black hair wrapped in a hair net asked if she could help me.

“What’s this one?” I asked, pointing to a glossy brown cake covered in walnuts.

Babka! Walnuts, raisins, cinnamon.”

I thought it over. “Hm.  I need a couple of slices of something delicious.”

“This is very delicious!” She responded.  And it was.

Babka!

Friday night supper is very important.  When the sun sets tonight, I’m lighting the candles and keeping shabbos: the day of rest that lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  Sunset is at 7:28; so the candles will be lit at 7:10.  Before the candles are lit, dinner must be ready.  And what is more appropriate for the Sabbath then a hot bowl of chicken soup?  The recipe I’ll be cooking from comes from the first kosher Jewish cookbook published in America, Jewish Cookery Book by Mrs. Esther Levy (1871), “A cookery book properly explained, and in accordance with the rules of the Jewish religion.”

There’s 39 categories of things I am not allowed to do on shabbat (although I may employ Roommate Jeff as a shabbes goy).  The list includes cooking, tidying, plowing, weaving, writing two or more letters, building, demolishing, extinguishing a fire, kindling a fire, putting the finishing touch on an object and transporting an object between the private domain and the public domain.  It’s all based around preventing one from doing work and encouraging one to rest.

Tonight, we will turn off the lights, the computers, the cellphones and the tv.  We’ll read by candlelight, rest, and attend to certain other encouraged activities.

Tomorrow, I’ll break sabbath by getting up, getting on the train, and going to work.  When I step out the door, I’m shedding the rituals a life that is not mine; but I’m leaving with a much better understanding of what it entails.

Going Kosher: Day 2

Breakfast: Bread & Butter, Cheese, Fruit, Coffee

Breakfast

Fresh Fruit
American Cheese
Bread & Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Vegetable Soup
Pot Roast
Potatoes
Bread

Supper

Bologna
Dill Pickles
Stewed Fruit
Bread
Tea

While Boyfriend Brian made the coffee, I carefully got out the dairy dishes and silverware for breakfast.  I realized that I had begun to like the ritual of choosing the dishes and setting them on the table; there was something very orderly and satisfying about it.  We dug in to oranges, buttered bread, and hunks of cheddar cheese.

The cheese was more difficult to find than one would expect.  We spent a solid fifteen minutes in the dairy aisle examing packages of American single slices.  I don’t actually know what “American Cheese” would entail in 1914; was it the packaged cheese product that we know today? (I think I’ll be expanding this question into a full post on the origins of the grilled cheese sandwich).  Most American cheese seems to be made with Rennet, an animal enzyme that makes Kraft Singles decidedly not kosher.  In a fit of frustration, I grabbed a log of McCadam’s Cheddar Cheese and checked the back of the package:  both Kosher and Hallal, and prominently marked.  It was a suitable substitution.

Chicken Fricassee: Tastes less beige than it looks.

Lunch was vegetable soup from a can, both Kosher and Parve.  I heated it and served it with half a bialy while I worked on the meat dish.   I couldn’t find kosher beef at the store; instead, I had a sectioned chicken.  To find a good recipe, I decided to turn to one of my standby cookbooks: The Settlement Cookbook: The Way to a Man’s Heart.

The Settlement Cookbook was published by a settlement house in Milwaukee, an organization run by the children and grandchildren of German Jewish immigrants who arrived in the mid-19th century.  The turn of the century wave of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe struck these now “American” Jews as too foriegn, too orthodox, too strange; as a result, there was a huge movement to “Americanize” them.  This book, a mix of midwestern American cuisine and traditional German Jewish fare, is one of the by-products.

I looked up the recipe for Chicken Fricasee, an American dinner table staple since sometime in the 18th century:

I didn’t have a red pepper on hand, so I threw a teaspoon of paprika in with the simmering onion, celery stalk and garlic clove.  I salted and peppered two bone-in chicken breasts, and placed them skin side down in the hot pot.  I let them brown, then covered the whole thing over with water.  I added two bay leaves and a large, cubed potato before I covered the pot and let it simmer.

When the potatoes were tender, the chicken was done, too.  It was really easy to throw together.  In fact, everything I’ve cooked for lunch has been super simple but flavorful.  I did *not* make the cream sauce the recipe suggests serving the chicken with.

Both Brian and I wanted juice to drink instead of water; while trying to determine if our carton of Tropicana was kosher, Brian came across OK Kosher Certification, a website that lets you search retail products to see if they have a kosher certification.  This discovery is going to simplify this entire process.

The day came to an end with rolls of all-beef Hebrew National bologna, dill pickles from The Pickle Guys, and a bowl of hot stewed apples: Gala apples sliced and cooked slowly with water, raw sugar, and cinnamon.

Supper: Beef Bologna, Pickles, Stewed Fruit, Bread.

Going Kosher: Eating Day 1

Breakfast: Two Boiled Eggs, Bread & Butter, and Coffee.

My day began with breakfast at the kitchen table with my boyfriend.  We had hard boiled eggs, which he hates; and coffee, which I hate.  I smeared a slice of bread with butter; my boyfriend paused, looked at me and said: “Is that butter kosher?”

I sighed. “I don’t…it’s fine…arrrgh, let me check.”

I grabbed the Breakstone’s box out of the fridge.  We had spent a better part of the previous evening in the grocery store, having to scrutinize every box for the Kosher symbol.  Breakstone’s made my day:

Usually, the kosher symbol is not so obvious.

I left my boyfriend with a list of what to eat and headed into work.  At lunch, I dazzled my coworkers with my multiple Tupperwares, my bialy from Kossar’s and my bag of pickled vegetables from The Pickles Guys: cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and celery.  The Pickle Guys are the last pickle purveyors on the Lower East Side, a community that long ago had a barrel of pickles for sale on every street corner.  The day I went, I saw another ghost from the past: a horseradish grinder, filling orders for the upcoming Passover holiday.  I had heard a story (from Jane Ziegelman) that the horseradish grinders of the last century were easily recognizable even after their daily toil was done: the fumes from the pungent root would cause their eyes to inflame and water all day.  This modern-day grinder donned a gas mask to avoid that unpleasant side affect.

The horseradish grinder.

The potato soup was perfect, the sweet-and-sour goulash was delicious.  Lunch was filling and satisfying.

Hungarian goulash, served with noodles; how I remember it from my childhood.

Dinner was late: at the end of the long day, I sat at the kitchen table again.  I split a buttered bialy with my man and we cracked open a take-out container from Russ & Daughters, one of those unstoppable Lower East Side institutions that started as a pushcart a century ago.  The first store to use “& Daughters,” it’s motto is “Appetizing since 1914.”

When I stopped in the other day, their candy counter was stocked with tempting towers of nuts and macaroons for Passover.  I needed pickled herring for dinner and I choose one with a modern twist: a herring done up in a delicious curry sauce, topped off with a stack of pickled onions.

Neither my boyfriend or I eat much fish,  but we both agreed that this herring was probably really good herring.  Mostly, we piled our bread high with onions and delicious curry sauce.  We finished with a few pieces of fresh fruit and cups of hot, black tea.

Pickled herring in curry sauce, from Russ & Daughters; a bialy from Kossar’s.

Going Kosher: Day 1

Breakfast:

Boiled Eggs (2)
Bread and Butter
Coffee

Dinner (Lunch):

Potato Soup
Hungarian Goulash
Vegetables
Bread

Supper:

Pickled Herring
Fresh Fruit
Bread & Butter
Tea

I worked yesterday, so I did all of my meal prep the night before, carefully labeling Tupperware “M” and “D”  to take with me, organizing food in the fridge for my boyfriend.

As I cooked dishes for lunch, I kept encountering problems. I went for the vegetable peeler, then remembered that it was not kosher: it had been washed 100 times with sponges that had touched both meat and dairy.  My good knives and my cutting board were in the same boat, so I mangled vegetables with a butter knife over paper towels.

I only had one pot I could use for meat, so I could only cook one dish at a time:  the eggs for breakfast first, then the potato soup with chicken stock, then noodles for the Hungarian goulash, then the meat.

The potato soup recipe was a simple one I knew by heart: one stalk celery, one carrot, one onion.  Softened in Canola Oil, although I wished I had schmaltz, the more period appropriate, tastier cooking oil.  Then, salt and pepper, two large potatoes, and chicken stock bought from the kosher aisle at Gristede’s. Simmered until the potatoes are done; delicious.

For the Hungarian Goulash, I referenced an historic recipe from The Neighborhood Cook Book (1912):

I had difficulty finding kosher beef.  I wandered the Lower East Side, caught in a freezing rainstorm with a broken umbrella.  I searched for kosher butcher shops Google said still existed, but were either long closed or somehow hidden from my goy eyes.  I began to find myself on streets where the only writing was in Yiddish, on some forgotten corner that didn’t know the Jewish population had moved on fifty years ago.  I asked around.  I was told to go to Brooklyn.  But something stopped me from crossing the bridge in to Williamsburg: there, you can find the Lower East Side of 100 years ago.  There I was too different, too foreign.  I was too scared to find what I needed there.

So, shivering and soaked with rain, I ducked into a grocery store that I knew would have a kosher section in the back.  Next to a shelf of Hebrew National salamis were a few rows of chicken and turkey labeled “kosher.”  I settled on ground turkey for my goulash instead of beef.

I followed the recipe, tasting it after it has been simmering a time with the tomato.  It was bland and terrible and lacking the deep red color that I know goulash should have.  I have attachments and memories of this dish from my childhood: the Catholics that ended up in my hometown of Cleveland came from the same parts of the word as the Jews that stayed in New York.  I tripled the paprika.  Then, I remembered a common theme of eastern-European cooking: sweet and sour.  I threw in a tablespoon of vinegar and a packet of Sugar in the Raw, and let it simmer over low.

Stirring my pot of goulash, I felt like a jewish housewife.  All the steps, the careful cleaning.  Meat sponge for the knife that cut the onion for the soup.  Dairy sponge for the knife that buttered the Bialy for dinner. So careful. So thoughtful.

How did it all taste?  More on that later today.

Diets: Going Kosher

I work three days a week at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum as an educator.  I guide visitors through tiny, dark apartments.  Small spaces that 100 years ago housed families of eight or more.

Standing in the kitchen (the one with no running water, no refrigeration, and limited storage space), someone always asks with a sense of awe: “How did they do it?”

Not just how did they raise a family, do the laundry, run a business or the myriad of tasks that took up a tenement dweller’s day.  What they’re really asking is “How did they keep Kosher?”  How did the millions of Jewish immigrants that poured into the Lower East Side around the turn of the century manage to preserve the traditions of their faith in the airless kitchens of a five floor walk up?

“I have no idea,” I answer. “But I’m going to find out.”

This week, I’m following kashruth.  In my four floor walk up in Queens; in my modern kitchen; and only for three days.  A drop in the bucket compared to the daily ins and outs of the Jewish housewife 100 years ago (or the contemporary Orthodox housewife in Williamsburg, Brooklyn).

The menu I’ll be following is a 1914 daily menu from the Kosher Kitchen at Ellis Island.  I came across the menu in Jane Ziegelman’s book 97 Orchard, but the original can be found in the Ellis Island Archives.  The Kosher Kitchen was opened in 1911 after advocacy by the Jewish aid organization HIAS.  Imagine spending eighteen days on a steamship from Russia, where you may or may not have been provided with Kosher food, or may have had to prepare it yourself.  You arrive in America to another plate of unkosher food.  Exhausted, malnourished, and vulnerable to disease, you were at risk for deportation on medical grounds.  The Kosher Kitchen, free to immigrants beings detained at Ellis Island, was a huge step.

Why is kosher kept?  The basis of kosher is derived from Exodus 23:19: “Thou shalt not boil a kid in it mother’s milk.”  Meat and dairy must never come together.  Everything else is referred to as “parve,” and can be eaten with with meat or dairy.  Utensils and dishes must be kept separate for each, as well as dish rags, cutting boards, etc.  If one touches the other, the utensils are “traif”, meaning they can’t be used for either.  There are laws regarding how long you must wait to eat dairy after meat (anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on your rabbi) and vice versa.  There are laws regarding what animals you can eat and what cuts of meat: chickens, cows, fishes.  No rabbits. No Shellfish.  They must be slaughtered in a certain way and all the blood must be drained before consumption.

100 years ago, Jewish immigrants were divided into two categories: those attempting to preserve their traditions in America, and “Oyster Eaters,” those becoming more liberal and more “American” in their observances.

There’s more to it than that.  Nuances and laws I’ll cover over the next few days (or you can brush up at jewfaq).

As the daughter of a Catholic, I viewed kosher like a Catholic would: this is a thing you do and if you don’t do it, you’ll burn in hell.  Not so.  As my colleague Judy explained it: “This is the thing you do to show your are different than your neighbors.  It’s the thing you do to show you are Jewish.”

So for the next three days, my dairy will not touch my meat.