As I mentioned in my previous post, “If you’re looking for a kosher establishment with plentiful vegetarian and vegan options, there’s no need to check both vegan and kosher restaurant guides when you can check only one list.”
It’s now been seven weeks backpacking through this meat-lovers paradise, tough going for a pair of Jews spoiled by home cooking and New York’s great vegetarian restaurants. Vegetarian cuisine in Peru and Bolivia is, like their economies, ‘developing.’ We were pleasantly surprised at the number of vegetarian restaurants in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. In many of them we had a set menu consisting of a soup, a main, tea and possibly desert for $1.50-$5. Now it could be that South American vegetarian cuisine is relatively immature, or did the Spaniards run off with all the Inca’s seasoning as well as their gold… because all most all of our Andean meals were quite bland. The vegetables or grain soups would have been enlivened by adding almost anything. The mains usually consisted of rice, eggs and glisteningly oily fried vegetables. Most of the vegetarian restaurants rely heavily on eggs and cheese, so if you are travelling vegan, it might end up being the rice and oily vegetables for meal after meal. If you risk eating at a non-vegetarian restaurant, the vegetarian menu usually consists of pizza and spaghetti. I should mention that it wasn’t all bad news, we did enjoy a veggie version of a traditional Arequipa dish (at a restaurant called Lakshmivan), a large pepper stuffed with vegetables, tofu and chillies, as well as scrumptious burritos at the Hearts Café in Ollantaytambo.
When it comes to snacks there is more to get excited about.
Uri L’Tzedek is now accepting applications from college and graduate students for our 2nd annual Summer Fellowship Program! This 6-week program is an opportunity to work alongside Uri L’Tzedek’s staff and board, experiencing the many mechanisms that come together to create an effective non-profit organization, gaining exposure to communal Jewish life, effecting change, and learning Torah, social justice philosophy, and community organizing models.
Fellows will be based in New York City and will dedicate their time to some of the following innovative projects: Tav HaYosher (the ethical seal for kosher restaurants), organizational development, communications, education, service, community outreach, website development, multi-media, and technology.
Thanks so much to Emunah Hauser for this heads up. Emunah is a host at Saul’s Restaurant and Deli, which has been organizing the Referendum on the Deli Menu, which will be held on Tuesday in Berkeley, CA. Check out Saul’s blog Sustainability Adventures of a 100+ seat Diner.
Can the Jewish Deli be sustainable? Can a retro cuisine be part of the avant- garde?
Local, organic VS. the externalized costs of cheap, industrial food and . . . collective memory and food traditions?
Deli is at a crossroads. In New York, only a handful delis remain from hundreds. Across the country, beloved Delis continue to disappear. Popular expectations of “real” Deli conflict with today’s economic realities. And these expectations conflict with environmental sustainability.
What is Jewish food? Avoiding shellfish and pork and never eating meat with dairy? Hummus? Kreplach? Whatever your Bubbe used to make?
What makes a cuisine Jewish? Other East Asian cultures have vegetarian diets, which by default wouldn’t be mixing meat with dairy. Hummus is wildly popular throughout the Middle East. And are kreplach so very different than Italian tortellini?
So what is Jewish food? It’s like what is asking what your comfort food is. Probably whatever your family makes. If you have an Eastern European background, brisket, matzoh ball soup and knishes may be the norm. A Sephardic background may involve more Mediterranean dishes.
But can this identification with food change? When I was in college, my comfort food was Macaroni and Cheese out of a box. As an adult, my go-to comfort dish is sautéed mushrooms and kale. So yes, I’m a believer that people can change. So can what we think of as Jewish cuisine change?
Thanks so much to Aryeh Pelcovitz of Uri L’Tzedek for this great guest post.
In July of 2009, Uri L’Tzedek began a small project in New York to change the way the (Orthodox / Jewish) community approached its food. Modeled after Israel’s Tav Chevrati, the Tav Hayosher, ethical seal, would certify that a kosher eating establishment was meeting legal and ethical standards in the way it treats its employees. Uri L’Tzedek granted the Tav to kosher restaurants and supermarkets after confirming that their employees were paid at least minimum wage, overtime, were granted appropriate breaks, and work in a healthy and safe environment.
I’m stuffed. Not from my Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family in the US – although everything on the table was delicious – but from five days of intellectual, spiritual, and gastronomical nourishment while participating in Hazon and Heschel’s first Israel Sustainable Food Tour. From November 15th though 19th, twenty-seven foodies and I explored Israel from the perspective of sustainable food. We met with farmers, chefs, community gardeners, a permaculture expert, a food scientist, volunteers at an innovative soup kitchen, the founder of a food co-op, an expert on food insecurity in Israel, and many other passionate people who shared their experiences working on sustainable food issues throughout the country.
Recently I had the chance to speak with Noah Alper, founder of the eponymous Noah’s Bagels. Noah, who sold Noah’s Bagels in 1999, has been in the food business since the 1970s, when he started Bread and Circus, the East Coast natural food chain (bought by Whole Foods in 1992). He’s kept kosher since the early 1990s, and at one point Noah’s Bagels was the largest kosher retailer in the country. (For those on the prowl, there’s still one kosher Noah’s Bagels, in Seattle.) Nowadays, he’s committed to preaching the gospel of socially responsible business practices, and to that end he’s come out with a book called Business Mensch that aims to connect Jewish principles to good business practices and convince business leaders that community values are good for their bottom line.
Hazon’s friends and partners in Food Justice, Uri L’Tzedek, have been busy. They’ve just launched a new website Utzedek.org. You can find Torah sources and articles, activist resources, hundreds of volunteer and campaign opportunities, social justice events, opportunities to contribute, and much more!
Among Uri L’Tzedek’s important work is the Tav HaYosher (ethical seal) – a local, grassroots initiative to bring workers, restaurant owners and community members together to create just workplaces in kosher restaurants.
Maybe it is cliche but they say dinner and a show makes for a great date. I’m hoping so because this weekend my boyfriend and I will be eating at Conni’s Avant Garde Resturant – which is both dinner and a show. But this is not your average local dinner theatre. They are really serious about their local food. I got the chance to talk with some of the folks working on the show about their menu and focus on local food. Below the jump is a brief interview and information on how you can get your own tickets to this fun event.
Whenever I return to New York for a visit, I make a pilgrimage to Barney Greengrass for lox, eggs and onions (with a toasted everything bagel and a small borscht, baby). Walter, my famed fishmonger at Pure Fish at the Pike Place Market, sweetly gave me a birthday package of hot-smoked salmon this week. As soon as I got it home, I knew what I was going to do with it.
I had new red onions in the fridge from my Hazon CSA box and unbelievably orange and delicious eggs from the Crown-S-Ranch from which I’m sure I’ll never recover. Oh, to be an egg snob! Lordy, Lordy.
The last time I went to Melo Hatene to stock up on tahina, I ran into my friend and fellow kibbutz member, David Leishman. David was there for tahina, too: He occasionally makes tahina ice cream for Melo Hatene’s restaurant in exchange for raw tahina and other yummy things from the shop.
Intrigued by the idea of tahina ice cream, I asked David for his recipe. (David has been making wonderful homemade ice cream since before he came to Kibbutz Gezer, over 30 years ago.) What I got from David was not really a recipe, but vague amounts for a restaurant quantity.
Like any good narcissist, I’m a sucker for a self help book. Particularly those sweet tongue-in-cheek manuals sitting near the counter at B&N. Those slim volumes seem to promise a schematic for your life: how to dress, date, survive a bear attack, and of course, eat. Clean Plates N.Y.C. fits the bill neatly. But unlike those “Survival Guides,” this is a self help book with a mission: to help its readers eat healthy and yummy meals in NYC.
And for those desiring to gather and produce their own local fare, we have illicit urban agrarian societies in New York that go foraging or keep bees. But as it turns out, not all local foods are created equally.