A recent BuzzFeed post on this topic elicited a strong response from more religious Jews. My take comes from a stricter observance. Keeping kosher is a privilege and a choice — a choice that I’m very happy with. But hey, sometimes you just need to kvetch.
I love food television — especially Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. But then Fieri goes to an Italian restaurant in Boston and tries the house special, a meatball sub with the best looking meatballs ever. It looks amazing. I am so into it, even though I could never go to that restaurant because it’s not kosher. But no big deal — it’s just entertainment, so I keep watching. And I always pay attention to the ingredients. Perhaps they’re actually kosher friendly and I something I can make in my own kitchen. But it turns out that pork is an ingredient in those meatballs. Reality kicks in. I get sad (and hungry).
Oh look, a bunch of my coworkers went out for BBQ after work and are having an awesome time and the food looks delicious. WHATEVER GUYS.
Of course I want to go to Momofuku. I want to go to Shake Shack. I want to go to Guy Fieri’s restaurant. (You know, ironically, of course.) In New York, it’s impossible to avoid the firestorm of excitement whatever new restaurant Eater says is going to be a big deal.
And that makes me sad. But I can’t always be sure how kosher the food is at most other people’s homes.
My beliefs require that I wait at least five hours after eating meat to eat any dairy. (Some people who keep kosher choose to wait for a shorter time, while others wait even longer.) I try not to eat meat very often, because I care very strongly for pizza. I also like to have a cup of coffee with milk in the afternoon, and eating meat for lunch ruins that possibility.
6. Non-dairy creamer is a bad way to end a meal.
Speaking of coffee, non-dairy creamer is disgusting. But if I’m having coffee after dinner and I’ve also had meat, I have no other choice.
Fish must have both fins and scales to be considered kosher, and the scales have to be easy to remove without ripping the skin. Swordfish is particularly deceiving because it has fins but it doesn’t have scales. Basa fish is so similar to tilapia (which is kosher) that it’s often marked as tilapia but it’s actually not kosher. So what happens if I want a buy a few pounds of the fish that’s the least expensive but I’m not sure if that one is kosher? It’s a good thing I have a smart phone.
Kosher meat is typically more expensive than regular meat. And I wouldn’t buy meat — even if it’s marked kosher — from a non-kosher grocery store.
9. Having to pack a lunch for work every day is no fun.
Lots of leftovers. Lots of planning. My office isn’t close to any kosher restaurants so I always have to pack my lunch. Fortunately, BuzzFeed gets a lot of office snacks from Trader Joe’s and often they are kosher.
10. Traveling with packaged tuna feels a little crazy.
When my family went on vacation to Europe, we weren’t totally sure what would be available for meals, so we brought tuna, chips, crackers, and granola bars. If you think a shampoo spill is bad, try getting tuna juice out of your beachwear.
11. Eating Tofutti (faux) ice cream sandwiches is not the most fun.
If I want to have some ice cream after eating meat, I have to resort to Tofutti. Luckily a serving size is just small enough that I can finish it before realizing it doesn’t have any dairy in it.
12. I miss Mexican food so much my heart aches a little.
I didn’t always keep kosher, and there are things I’ll never stop missing, like Mexican food. There really is no good kosher alternative for Mexican food. I haven’t had a good burrito in years. I also like queso, A LOT.
13. Shopping in non-kosher grocery stores makes me want to do this.
I have to constantly check to make sure the kosher symbols are there on the things I pick up. And if I accidentally buy something that isn’t kosher, I either have to return it or give it away.
There are so many rules and interpretations to the point where I often don’t know the exact thing to do - so I end up just not doing it be safe.