Gaza residents craving KFC can order delivery, but with the meals smuggled by underground tunnel, it’s not exactly fast food. [The New York Times]
Lawmakers in Poland may lift a recent ban on kosher slaughter. [Times of Israel]
A Cambridge microbrewery is honoring Sean Collier, the MIT police officer allegedly killed by the Boston bombing suspects, with a new beer. [The Boston Globe]
A new deli in Atlanta, The General Muir, is bringing New York tastes to the South. [Business Insider]
Recipes for apricot-almond coffee cake, strawberry focaccia and spanakopita pie show that your oven loves spring produce, too. [Huffington Post]
Eating food is an exercise in trust. In today’s day and age, where most eaters are extremely disconnected from the process that gets our food from farm to fork, we need to be able to trust our food producers, manufacturers, and cooks that the food is what it says it is, and it does not contain anything that it isn’t supposed to. This trust needs to be present, no matter what food values you hold. If you care about food safety, you want to know that your food doesn’t have any malicious pathogens. If you care about fair trade, you want to know that the food was not produced by people who are enslaved. And if you care about kashrut, you want to know that your food meets all of the requirements of Jewish law.
In “Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food”, Timothy D. Lytton, a professor at Albany Law School, describes how our current system of kosher supervision, dominated by the “Big Five” agencies (OU, OK, Kof-K, Star-K, and CRC), enables kosher consumers to trust that their food is in fact kosher. Lytton explains that “the American industrial kashrus system includes private certification agencies, industrial food manufacturers, and kosher consumers, who engage in market exchanges with each other and are joined by bonds of trust that, in conjunction with reputational sanctions, maintain reliable kosher certification standards.” Rabbi Harvey Senter, founder of the Kof-K, puts it another way, “kashrus is based on ne’emnus (trustworthiness).” The kosher consumer must have faith that the kosher certifier has their interests and values in mind.
“BISON?!?” I exclaimed to my dad who had just told me to try a new type of burger. I was ten years old, standing in my kitchen, eating what I thought was a typical dinner. I was actually halfway through with the patty when my dad informed me this wasn’t from a typical cow; rather, it was from an animal that I had never heard of. Immediately, I did what any ten-year-old would do, and I ran straight for the garbage. Then, I started crying. I didn’t want to eat strange foods that I had never heard of nor did I want to be tricked into eating something I thought was something else.
Thankfully — and sometimes not so thankfully — my parents trained me to eat everything from a very young age. Whether or not I was fooled, I developed a love for ethnic foods, rare meats, and strange looking vegetables. I was eating brussel sprouts, spinach, and cabbage from a very young age. My family didn’t observe Kosher dietary laws so I ate every kind of meat you can imagine as well. Typical dishes were shrimp scampi, lobster bisque, and pork tenderloin. Peanut butter and jelly? I had my first one during my freshmen year of college after a few of my friends learned I had never tried it before.
Yitzie Katz’s “aha” moment for KosherRestaurantsGPS — a new app tracking 1,600 certified-kosher food establishments — came three years ago in Manhattan’s Garment District.
Parked outside W. 36th St. kosher hangout Jerusalem Café, the software developer noticed his car’s navigation system didn’t recognize the restaurant existed. Worse, he learned, “even if you used a GPS hardware device under the ‘kosher’ setting, not all the places listed were indeed kosher,” he told the Forward in an e-mail. “So I set out to create my own database of reliable kosher places and an app for iPhones and Android devices.”
The result, KosherRestaurantsGPS, has been downloaded more than 60,000 times since its January launch, Katz says. The app, available free from iTunes and the Android Google Play store, includes more than 1,300 locations “with strict kosher certification,” Katz says.
“I work with different rabbis who are in the kashrut business, and they’ve given me a list of those hashgacha [kosher certifications] considered reliable to 95% of the Orthodox community. I consult with them frequently,” Katz said. “But I also tell my users to check the website or call the establishment and confirm the hashgacha because they may have changed and I have not been informed yet, or there’s that 5% chance you don’t hold by a particular hashgacha.”
Kim Kushner, author of the newly published “The Modern Menu,” hadn’t planned on writing a cookbook. It came about as a result of her cooking students’ constantly asking her to compile her recipes, like curried couscous salad, crunchy curry cauliflower with tahini and pomegranate, chicken with pumpkin, figs, and honey, and tequila London broil with mango chutney.
Kushner responded with a kosher cookbook with recipes for simple, flavorful dishes photographed in a stunningly simple, but highly appealing fashion. “The Modern Menu” is about food that highlights fresh ingredients and evokes a sense of home, warmth and hospitality.
This is very much in keeping with Kushner’s approach to cooking, which is greatly influenced by her growing up in her Israeli-Moroccan mother’s kitchen in Montreal. In the introduction to her book, Kushner recalls that her childhood home was always filled with guests for dinner and Shabbat and holiday meals.
This blog post originally appeared on What’s Your Food Worth?
Sue Fishkoff is the editor of j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. Previously she has worked as a national correspondent for the JTA Jewish news service, focusing on Jewish identity and culture. Her freelance work has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Hadassah Magazine, and the London Jewish Chronicle. From 1991-1997, she was a staff writer for the Jerusalem Post, serving as the paper’s New York bureau chief from 1991 to 1994. She is the author of “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch” (Schocken Books, 2003) and “Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority” (Schocken, October 2010.)
Recently Fishkoff answered a few questions from Bryant Simon at What’s Your Food Worth.
Here’s a roundup of oenophile-tested, rabbi-approved picks for this year’s Seder table:
The granddaddy of wine publications has picks for all budgets, from a $13 Baron Herzog Zinfandel to a $150 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon. Look for more options using their online Wine Searcher. [Wine Spectator]
Kosher wines from South Africa and the Pacific Northwest, including a mevushal (pasteurized) selection that can be poured by non-Jews. [The Daily Meal]
It’s all about reds, according to these New York wine professionals. [The Wall Street Journal]
Wine critic Eric Asimov reviews a dozen options (two mevushal) starting at $16. [The New York Times]
A look at five mevushal varieties from Napa Valley’s Hagafen Cellars. [Palate Press]
Maple Leaf Jews are covered with 20 picks under $20. [Canada.com]
A focus on Israeli wines under the Yarden’s umbrella. [The San Francisco Examiner]
Four non-mevushal picks from Israel, Bordeaux and California. [The Wine Cellar Insider]
Recommended bottles from $9 and up. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
This post originally appeared on the blog What Is Your Food Worth?
Timothy D. Lytton is the Albert and Angela Farone Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School, where he teaches courses on regulatory theory and administrative law. His book, “Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food,” has just been published by Harvard University Press. In his book, Lytton argues that the $12 billion a year kosher industry is something of an unheralded story of success of private-sector regulation in an era of growing public concern over the government’s ability to ensure food safety. Kosher uncovers how independent certification agencies rescued American kosher supervision from fraud and corruption and turned it into a model of nongovernmental administration.
Recently Professor Lytton answered a few questions from the What Is Your Food Worth? Project.
The Orthodox Union wants to take the guesswork out of eating kitniyot on Passover. With no kitniyot kosher certification to go by, eaters of legumes and several grains during the holiday—traditionally Sephardi Jews, but now also others—have had to rely on their own judgment that there was no hametz, or leaven, in a food product.
Now, the experts have stepped in to alleviate any possible confusion. For the first time ever, the OU has introduced OU Kitniyot, a new certification symbol that can appear on kosher for Passover products.
“People may assume a food product is kitniyot, but there could actually be hametz hidden it,” warned Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union’s kashrut division in a phone interview with The Jew and the Carrot. “This new certification is critical because you can’t tell just from the ingredients list whether something is really kitniyot and nothing else.”
The Jewish Week reports that the hip, super-stylish Soho restaurant is being made to undergo a rebranding as a result of its seeking kosher certification from the OU. Paying homage to a 9th century B.C.E. queen of ancient Israel who built temples to pagan gods and negatively influenced her husband King Ahab, may have worked until now. After all, the restaurant touted its “decadent” atmosphere on its website.
But now that it has decided to try to attract more traditional kosher diners, Jezebel is being thrown out (though perhaps not as violently as the actual biblical queen was).
Most of the time, I do what I want. It’s what’s so great about being an adult. I get to eat baked potatoes at midnight and watch terrible television by myself. I get to choose the music I listen to, the clothes I wear, the jobs I keep.
I’ve kept kosher in my own way for as long as I can remember. It used to be that I wouldn’t eat meat and milk together, and wouldn’t eat shellfish or pork. Those rules, though a loose interpretation of the laws of Kashrut, meant something to me. They kept me tied into my history, my Jewish inheritance. But sometime in my mid-twenties, I began to slip. First I had chicken and cheese together. Then I ordered a turkey and Swiss sandwich. Last year I had a cheeseburger for the first time.
The recent discovery of horsemeat in products sold as beef in the UK has shocked many British consumers, turning them away from their local butcher counters, fast food restaurants and ready-meals.
While the situation is alarming for the larger meat industry, kosher meat purveyors in Europe are thriving as consumers — Jewish and non — turn to them as “guaranteed safe sources,” reports The Jewish Chronicle.
“The level of supervision which exists in all kosher establishments — either retail or otherwise — ensures that any ingredient or meat meets our requirements,” Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, administrator at the Manchester Beth Din, told the Chronicle. “There would be no way whatsoever that anything could find its way into a kosher product which is not perfectly acceptable,” he added.
For Jewish consumers in the UK, this means returning to the kosher vendors they might have strayed from due to high prices, says the Chronicle.
Sue Fishkoff, author of the book “Kosher Nation”, said that the reaction to the horsemeat scandal indicates a shifting European mentality in regards to kosher food.
I just explained the Holocaust to my daughter through the lens of food scarcity and kashrut.
I hadn’t planned to explain the Holocaust to my daughter at age 4.
However, after listening to Leah Johnson’s (Yonson) story of Holocaust survival in the Forests of Belarus (with the Bielski Brothers - see Daniel Craig in the movie “Defiance” and the spellbinding History Channel documentary), I came home to my wonderful daughter complaining about which type of noodle she wanted to eat. It made me want to immediately convey to her how privileged she is and how others have struggled.
ConAgra Foods Inc has won the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by consumers claiming the company’s Hebrew National hot dogs and other products are not kosher.
U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul federal court ruled on Thursday that he does not have jurisdiction over a dispute that he described as “intrinsically religious in nature.”
Eleven consumers filed the lawsuit last May, asserting that ConAgra misled customers into believing that its products were kosher according to “the most stringent” Orthodox Jewish standards by including a symbol on its packaging.
The Polish government reportedly is consulting with trade unions on legislation to allow kosher and halal slaughter.
The Polish Press Agency, PAP, reported Jan. 23 that a ministerial committee had given the trade unions copies of a draft amendment allowing ritual slaughter under the Polish Act on the Protection of Animals.
The unions have until Jan. 30 to respond, Malgorzata Ksiazyk of the Polish Ministry of Agriculture told PAP, after which time the bill will be brought to a vote.
Jerzy Wierzbicki, president of the Polish Beef Association, told Polskie Radio on Tuesday that he supported a “liberal policy” on ritual slaughter.
What will the Orthodox White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew be eating for lunch on January 21st?
We’re not quite sure, but his dining companions will be feasting on a meal that’s as treyf as they come.
Earlier today the menu for the traditional Inaugural Lunch in Statuary Hall was released and it starts with steamed lobster topped with clam chowder, features bison as a second course and apple pie with sour cream ice cream to finish.
The menu was chosen by native Brooklynite and member of the tribe Senator Charles Schumer, who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “This Inaugural luncheon menu incorporates foods that the first Americans enjoyed, but with a modern, forward looking approach,” he said. “I’m confident that Democrats, Republicans and representatives from all three branches alike will enjoy these incredible dishes from all corners of our nation.”
Well, everyone but those who keep kosher.
Perhaps someone should send Schumer a Zabar’s care package and remind him of his own culinary roots?
Check out the full menu below.
The sun was shining over the Union Square farmers market on a recent chilly morning as Chris Mitchell, a 34-year-old chef at the fashionable kosher eatery Jezebel, loomed over a table of Jerusalem artichokes. The six-foot-something Georgia native carefully inspected the exterior of the root vegetable before buying a handful to serve as dried chips.
Mitchell comes to the Manhattan market every morning to buy Jezebel’s produce as part of the restaurant’s commitment to purchase locally produced food.
“If you care about what you’re eating, and who you are feeding your food to, you’ll want to know where it comes from,” said Mitchell. “That’s the beauty of buying locally.”
The locavore movement has become one of the hottest food trends in recent years, propelled by advocates who see it as a conscientous and environmentally friendly alternative to industrial food trucked in over long distances. Produce from local sources often keeps longer and helps keep dollars in the local economy.
A constitutional court in Poland reportedly has ruled against allowing Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter in the country.
The Warsaw court’s ruling, which was made known on Tuesday, said the government had acted unconstitutionally when it exempted Jews and Muslims from stunning animals before slaughtering them as their faiths require, according to Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
Kadlcik told JTA that in addition to the special exception announced by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, is permissible under the 1997 Law on Regulating the Relations between the State and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
“It appears there is a legal contradiction here and it is too early to tell what this means,” he said. “We are seeking legal advice on this right now.”
Poland has approximately 6,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress.
According to Kadlcik, Poland has no kosher slaughterhouses but locally slaughtered kosher meat is nonetheless served at kosher cantines across the country.
“I’m not sure we will be able to keep serving meat there,” he said.
Despite being a California ballot initiative (Prop 37) in this year’s election, the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is rarely spoken about by our politicians or media outlets. Whatever one’s opinion of GMOs planted in fields and put in the marketplace, it is a matter that affects the entire planet. Whether or not one lives in a country which grows GMO crops, or personally chooses to purchase or consume GMOs, we are all affected by their existence. GMO crops have been shown to cross-fertilize with native plant species, feral canola (rapeseed) has been found in North Dakota and Canada. As the global acreage dedicated to GMO crops expands, the number of nations curtailing or banning production of GMO crops also slowly increases. While countries such as Ireland or Bolivia are opting to grow only non-GMO crops, from 2009-2010 there was a 10% increase in the global acreage used to grow GMO crops. New GMO crops such as sugar cane – and GMO crops created years ago such as vitamin enhanced rice – are likely to soon be introduced into the marketplace. Recently the FDA considered approving GMO salmon to be allowed in the marketplace, however there has never been a genetically modified animal with regulatory approval for marketplace consumption. Needless to say, all of these things have, at the very least, the potential for significant impact on the planet and our lives.
With a wink, Lisa Jacobs likes describing herself as “the world’s only Irish-Jewish cheesemaker.” But that unorthodox distinction is just one facet of her unlikely ascent from frustrated law student to artisan-dairy star.
In just five years, her Jacobs Creamery has gone from sneaking cheese production off-hours in a rural Oregon milk-bottling plant to churning out 600 pounds of the stuff every week — and finding fiercely loyal fans at farmers’ markets across Portland. “My first batch of cheese was Havarti, mainly because my dad liked it,” she laughed. “But I sold all of it.”
Today, her offerings include exquisite ricotta, crème fraiche, farmer’s cheese and fromage blanc, along with dairy-based puddings and panna cotta. Jacobs voice rises as she describes each variety in almost sensual detail. “My blue cheese is exceptional, and I’m not even a blue cheese fan. My crème fraiche is like a farmstead sour cream you’d find in Eastern Europe,” Jacobs said. “My butter is a European-style cultured butter that I hand-churn. And there’s a bloomy cheese that’s exceptionally smooth and creamy. Its flavor layers change as it ripens.”
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