Archive for the 'The Jew' Category

Vote for the Cuteness of The Jew & The Carrot (I.E., Me)

Last week, I wrote about how I, dressed as “Chris P. Carrot,” had led the Veggie Pride Parade in New York City under my dual Jew-carrot identity. Now you can vote for a photo of Chris P. Carrot (with his “wife,” Penelo Pea Pod) from the event as the cutest photo in a PETA contest!

A post on PETA’s blog announced, “Calling all connoisseurs of cuteness: We need your help deciding which of the following pics from recent PETA demonstrations is the most aww-inspiring.” (Note: Although PETA owns the costume that I borrowed, the event was not a PETA demonstration.)

The Jew & The Carrot (i.e., I) Led a Parade

Yesterday, I embodied the dual identity of the Jew and the carrot once again to lead the third annual Veggie Pride Parade through the streets of Manhattan. Trailing a police escort and walking in front of hundreds of enthusiastic herbivores, I frequently shouted “Eat Your Veggies, Not Your Friends!” while dressed as Chris P. Carrot.

Funny, You Don’t Cook Jewish

Shleppy in Shleopard

Is there a Jewish — and thus also a non-Jewish —way to cook?

I’m not talking about kashrut, which defines what one cooks.  I’m talking about how one cooks.

Actually, I’m talking about how I cook, and how my not-a-member-of-the-tribe partner Chuck cooks.  I’m wondering if like so many other aspects of our lives, the differences reflect our disparate religious upbringing.

My male partner was raised Christian in Canada, achieving a veritable trifecta of soft-spoken repression, at least compared to this loud Jewish woman from New York with whom he’s chosen to spend his life.  The manifestations of our differences range from the onerous to the hilarious. And we’ve begun to wonder if our cooking styles are among the things affected.

“For the Sin We Have Committed:” Eating Not Just Sustainably, but Sacredly

Thanks to Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster for this guest post. Rabbi Kahn-Troster is Director of Education and Outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights North America.

In Judaism, confession is a group experience. On Yom Kippur, we stand together as a community and in one voice confess our collective sins before God. Amidst the various lists of transgressions, the Al Chet prayer contains a line that deals with sustenance: Al chet she chatanu liphanecha b’ma’achal u’mishteh, literally: “For the sin we have sinned before You through food and drink.” “Food and drink” is often translated as “gluttony,” which narrows the sin to the idea that we are confessing to having eaten more than our share, wantonly, without thinking. I think the original translation is helpful—we have committed sins through all kinds of acts of eating and drinking, but also through the way our food is produced, distributed, and wasted.

Fast Food Rebellion

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While reading the opening portion of this week’s Parasha, the Rabbi in shul saw me and said, “You can’t be zolel ve’soveh (approx: gluttonous) on Wolfgang Puck cuisine.” This statement promptly blew my mind. Here’s why.

The statement in question comes from the passage in the Torah about the rebellious son, who, if certain conditions are met, is to be seen as completely incorrigible and must be put to death by the community. One of these conditions is that the child must eat and drink copious amounts of food in a gluttonous manner in a public area and this activity must be decried by the community leadership. According to the rabbinic authorities, the money used to purchase the food must have been stolen from his parents and he must commit this act in front of his parents’ home. Not easy to achieve.

The Jew & The Carrot – in Icing

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I’m feeling sluggish today. It’s rain-ish (not exactly raining, but close) this morning, which doesn’t help – and Yosh and I spent the last week on an engagement party tour – Tuesday and Wednesday in Silver Spring with his family, and Friday-Sunday in Chicago with mine.  There’s really nothing to complain about (both celebrations were great), but I am feeling a little bit “Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday” today.

While I pull myself together, I thought I’d share a picture of the amazing cake that Yosh’s sister made – complete with fondant icing carrots (for The Jew & The Carrot, of course) and a treble clef for Yosh.  It was hard to cut into such a masterpiece, but the carrot cake inside was worth it.  Check out another view below the jump.

Rebbe Pollan vs. Rebbe Industry

groceryJust a thought, but could the new food credo of “Eat food not too much, mostly plants,” be a threat to the Kashrut industry as we know it?

I just finished watching a promotional video from the OU. Targeted to the food industry, this video demonstrates the process by which a product receives certification. Using a fictional cake made by Drakes (of Seinfeld lore), the OU rabbi shows how, early in the process the ingredient list of the new cake is sent to the OU to ensure that all ingredients are kosher. Some of the ingredients are found to be problematic, the red sprinkles on top and the emulsifiers that in the words of Rabbi Moshe Elefant “make ingredients mix when they normally can’t.”

According to Rebbe Michael Pollan, food is defined as something your grandmother would recognize. I would bet a big bunch of kale that your grandmother didn’t use emulsifiers to make sure her cake was delicious.

Shechting at the Food Conference- a messy business

For all of the back and forth here about whether to shecht a goat at the upcoming Food Conference (which is certainly a noble and lively debate), very little space has been given to the what of shechting. Or the how, I suppose. While certainly secondary, the technical aspects of what goes/would go into slaughtering a goat at a Jewish retreat center in rural Connecticut with no facility set up for such a thing, and kosher are by no means simple. I was given the debatably enviable task (I loved it) of figuring out the answers to all the whats should we move ahead. Given that I’ve spent the better part of 18 months (2 years if you count my initial pangs of conscience) trying to get my ethical, kosher meat co-op off the ground, I figured I’d know all the pieces by heart and would just smooth them into place- heck, 1 little goat vs. dozens of cows? Piece of cake. Turns out that’s only half true.

Chef Laura Frankel: Pure Kosher

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Laura Frankel is not your typical kosher chef. For those of who have been reading her recent posts, she has little tolerance for fake foods and refuses to kowtow to clients who demand kosher versions of otherwise unkosher food. I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with her about her thoughts on food and the nature of food in Jewish society.

Poultry and Penitence

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The recent controversy regarding the custom of Kapparot (see article in the Forward) made me realize that Kapparot is virtually the only remaining ritual that uses an animal sacrifice as an atonement for human sin. In Temple times, any inadvertent sin had a corresponding animal sacrifice that was intended to cause the sinner to contemplate the nature of sin and how this animal is now losing its life instead of the sinner. pretty powerful stuff, if your environment is agrarian and animals are preciously traded commodities. Today however, things are much different.

A New Jewish Food Ethic

Last night I listened to the Book of Lamentations/Eichah. Today I read the words of Barbara Kingsolver:

Set down a platter of country ham in front of a rabbi, an imam, and a Buddhist monk, and you may have just conjured three visions of damnation. Guests with high blood pressure may add a fourth. Is it such a stretch, then, to make moral choices about food based on the global consequences of of its production and transport?

As Naf posted earlier, the ritual of fasting on Tisha B’av and other major fast days presents an interesting question for those who already use their food choices to represent their values, Jewish and otherwise. While I have traditionally fasted on Tisha B’av, I felt that the fast would weaken me too much to be at my “fighting weight” for a full day of work as the Farm Bill moves to the House Floor this Thursday.

Making connections between the mourning of the destruction of the Temple and the idea of Tikkun Olam as a substitute for the rebuilding of the Temple that many in the post-Messianic diaspora age make, I’ve recently viewed Tisha B’av as a moment to take a look at what is falling apart around us, as Anna posted earlier today.

However, as my teacher in Mexico used to say, when you dream about the world you imagine is possible, you should wake up and live it the next morning. Since the world I want to live in would have a wholly different food system, I decided that whatever food I would eat today should be representative of that world,

Why I Am Not A Foodie

Recently, a friend asked me if I was a foodie, a question which caught me thinking quite a while for an accurate response. “Well, I used to be” was the only thing I could think of. Reflecting back on that answer, I found myself questioning what and how I eat and how that differs from what one many think of when they think of a foodie.

Typically your average culinary fan tends to place a high value on taste and other palate-based pleasures. Different tastes and cuisines are prized and much is made of importance of the finest ingredients. Star chefs, award-winning cookbooks, and the finest tools become things to live for. But, I like food. I like to eat good food. What makes me feel that I am different that this? I pondered this and came to the conclusion that perspective was key.

Does a Fox Make a Bruchah?

I’m writing this post from Oakland, Ca at the “Adamah West” house. Here live 3 Adamah alumni doing their best to live the ideals that they developed at Adamah. Having spent a few days here, I can tell you that they’re doing a pretty solid job. First of all, the house is both dark and cold, which as I’ve learned is the first step in being an environmental household: no heat, no lights. Seriously though, they pick oranges from the tree in the backyard (and give them away as party favors), the cabinet in the living room contains at least 3 different strands of bacteria fermenting various types of vegetables and other goodies, and I just enjoyed a slice of fresh bread hot out of the oven….

Today I saw my first redwood trees while hiking in the Muir Woods with two friends. I wanted to see a redwood tree up close, and Ian wanted to forage for chanterelle mushrooms. At about one o’clock we pulled off the trail into a patch of “dappled sunlight” to sit down for our bagged lunch. Before we took our first bites, Adam asked for a communal blessing over our food so I said the “Hamotzi” and Ian offered some words of thanks to the Source of food, life, fresh air, and all growing things. Since we’re Jews, we didn’t just eat; we ate and discussed, and played variations of one of my favorite games, Amateur Geologist!

Would it still be Thanksgiving Dinner if we ate turkey every night?

Someone made a comment at the Food Conference that ‘ethnic foods’ were unhealthy; take your pick between Italian (heavy sauces), Indian (full of butter), Chinese (high fat & sugar content), and nobody’s national dish is particularly good for you. Nigel countered this with an important distinction: what we think of as “typical” cuisine from other countries is often, in that country, reserved for special occasions, whereas we eat it any (and sometimes every) night of the week. Couple that with the fact that when we eat out we’re likely to eat more than we are hungry for, and still have dessert–and yes, eating special occasion food all the time IS bad for you. It’s the equivalent of having a Thanksgiving-type meal four or five nights a week.I hadn’t really thought about this before. Our culture assigns different kinds of foods and meals to different kinds of occasions, and more and more, the category of ‘simple sustenance’ is giving way. Food plays a lot of different roles in our lives, and its importance for feasts, festivals, gatherings, important occasions cannot be understated. But in terms of what we need to stay healthy, our bodies require much less than society would like to feed it. We risk numbing ourselves by excess (not to mention getting fat, encouraging overproduction of our farmland, and increasing the disparity between this country and most of the rest of the world).

I do it all the time — I ‘treat’ myself. If I’m feeling sad, or stressed, or I woke up late, or even if I just happen to be biking past the bakery that gives a 50% discount on all its pastries if you arrive by bicycle (how do you turn that down!?)–I buy something yummy to get me through the day. But when I stop to tally up the week– the ‘treat’ hot chocolate, muffin, pastry, carrot cake… I’ve eaten something like that nearly every day.