Illustration by Kurt Hoffman
This is the second in a series of pseudonymous essays by The Treyfster. The pieces explore forbidden foods from the point of view of a person who used to keep traditionally kosher.
Before, when I was frum, we all used to have those conversations about “if you did, what would you?” If you were going to eat treyf, what would you pick? If you went super-goyish, what do you think you’d be like?
People had different answers to this question. Some people said, “Oh yeah, I could definitely eat treyf chicken, I think, but not pork.” Or, “I think I’d feel okay eating seafood.” Or, “I don’t know about treyf, but I could definitely eat some cheese an hour after eating some steak. I mean, they do that in the Netherlands anyway.”
Some people had thought it out pretty extensively and were particularly enamored of the idea of lobster, or cheeseburgers or even just fast food. There are a lot of McDonald’s fantasies out there; I think they’re a fantasy of fitting in, as much as anything else. A fantasy of no longer having to be so different all the time, of just being able to disappear. Some people enjoy pointing out that if you eat less than a kezayit — the volume of an olive — it doesn’t really count anyway. Although of course you shouldn’t do that, they hurry to explain.
Illustration by Kurt Hoffman
It was on a trip to Madrid, about four years ago, that I finally understood the paradox of opposites: that there’s no such thing as opposites, really, and that what you get when you try to run as hard as you can in the opposite direction to your upbringing is, well, something quite a lot like where you started.
I’d been eating treyf for about six years before that. I’d grown up frum, in an Orthodox — though not closed or uneducated — community. I’d separated meat from dairy, I’d only bought from kosher butchers, I’d kept myself clean of the impure flesh of the pig. I’d drunk only kosher wine, eaten only cheese made with vegetable rennet, bought only bread baked by Jewish hands. All of that. For a long time. And then it seemed time for it to be over. And slowly, one by one, I started to eat the forbidden foods.
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.
It seems only fitting that a restaurant so dedicated to treyf that it named itself after the term for unkosher food should open during Passover.
The brainchild of Jewish chef Jason Marcus and manager Heather Heuser, Traif — they spell it differently than we do — will have its soft opening this weekend in Williamsburg. It will be a restaurant of “shared plates, specializing in pork and shellfish and global soul food,” Marcus told the Forward.
“I am Jewish, although obviously not great at it. Traif…celebrates the foods that I love most, which just so happens to be the foods that I am not supposed to eat.” Marcus wrote on the restaurant’s blog.