a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

The Kosher Cheating Curve

Posted on: July 10, 2012

If no one is around to watch you eat that piece of bacon, did it ever really happen?

This weekend I’ll be traveling to Maine with my lovely partner and a couple of friends. I’m looking forward to getting out of the city, feeling very Dixie Chicks and hoping to look for miles and not see any tall buildings. I’m looking forward to dipping my toes in a cool lake, looking forward to sleeping in and snuggling with a good book. I’m looking forward to eating lobster. Lots of lobster and maybe some crab legs and maybe some oysters or mussels or shrimp.

Don’t worry-I keep Kosher, sort of. Here’s a list of things I do:

I eat kosher meat

I have separate mixing bowls and cutting boards (though they’re useless now that I’m off dairy)

I don’t eat treif

I have meat Pesach dishes

I don’t mix red meat with dairy (anymore)

I kashered my home for Pesach

I kashered my oven for Pesach

I kashered my microwave for Pesach

I eat halal meat

Here’s a list of things I don’t do:

I don’t buy kosher meat

I don’t have separate plates for meat, dairy and parve meals

I don’t have separate utensils

I don’t have separate pots and pans

For me keeping kosher is more about connecting to this particular mitzvot on a personal level rather than following a list of arbitrary rules for the sake of following rules. I decided that it was more important to eat locally, sustainably or organically than it is for me to eat meat that happens to have a little K on it. So the meat that I do eat in my home is either local or sustainable or organic, but not kosher certified. When I eat out, I try to eat at restaurants that source organic or local meat-sometimes it doesn’t work and then I eat vegetables sometimes it does. I steer clear of bacon (I miss you bacon) and other treif. I’ve even watched my girlfriend eat really delicious food I used to enjoy without as much as a taste-though I will smell it quite intensely.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t slip and have a cheeseburger since I declared myself Erika Kosher last Rosh Hashanah-I think I’ve had about four (okay maybe five) but now that I’ve been off dairy for almost two months those days are over. The rule about mixing meat and dairy made sense back in Biblical times, but today when you can have an angus burger with goat cheese, the mother and kid scenario don’t come into play, because it’s two different animals. Not to mention the fact that mixing chicken and dairy never bothered me because chickens don’t produce milk, but that’s another post.

Now that I’m an Erika-kosher, non-dairy, gluten-free person I do my best to keep all of my food issues in check. If I’m at a friend’s house and my only option is to eat meat I’ll eat the meat. If someone puts a burger in front of me they’ve purchased and cooked on my behalf, who am I to say no? Instead of being the person who can’t eat that or that or that so I suppose I’ll just eat my bag of almonds I’ve got in my bag and drink some water, I gladly find the foods I can eat and enjoy them and if my only options are foods that are treif, I’ll eat those too.

Which brings me to Maine. When in Rome, I’ll get bloated and gassy on cheese and pasta. When in Maine this weekend, I’ll eat lobster.

It’s not so much of a Kosher Cheating Curve as it is an appreciation for the wonderful possibilities that Halal has to offer.


10 Responses to "The Kosher Cheating Curve"

Hey, you mentioned you’re gluten-free. Me too! I’ve been reading your blog for several months now (I’m a “Jew-in-progress”) and was wondering if you’ve heard of primal or paleo, both gluten-free (and in some cases, dairy-free) ways of eating.

I’ve been trying to nail down a coconut flour-ish challah or flat bread, but I’m not a great baker. Do you sub something “safe” for challah or skip it altogether on Shabbat?

Hi Brittany-

Gluten-free challah is the pits! I made a braid-able recipe once using GF all-purpose flour like regular flour added zantham gum and it was weird-but braid-able. Most recipes I find are for bread they call challah-the best tasting is on glutenfree goddess, but you can’t braid it.

The paleo thing is too bizarre for me, I get it, but I don’t 🙂 Plus I like grains too much to give them up, though I like to dip in and out of eating trends to figure out what works.

I also heard that you can’t “take” challah with most gluten-free challah recipes because they’re not kosher grains-meaning in order for it to be kosher challah and suitable for Shabbat you’d need to add oat (which is GF) to a recipe to be able to say hamotzi over it…this could be a blog post.

At any rate, there are recipes out there and many are tasty. Thanks for reading and mazel tov on your upcoming conversion!

In a strange turn of events, Erika eats non-kosher food and we start checking for little K’s or U’s on every package we pick up!

Weird how much a few months makes a crazy difference.

*waves* Hi Erika! Long time no comment. 🙂

It was all Maine’s fault! Thing is, I really (really) don’t like lobster. I ate it for three days straight trying to figure out if it was some weird Jewish guilt situation, but nope. I love calamari still. Sadly, those treif days are over. Back in the Big Apple, back to my treif-free life. Though I do sort of want to have a no questions asked, check your smart phone at the door, no cameras allowed Treif Party and invite all my friends;)

LOL That would be so bad 😉 I’ll send you a box of jello. Like black cherry?

I’m afraid I won’t get away from the kosher thing now. My gf has informed me officially that she starts feeling guilty when she knows she’s eating non-kosher foods. Oh well, at least we *both* have to give up shrimp and not just me.

Wish there was a kosher shop in town, though…

Totally bad and potentially really really yummy?

I honestly only miss bacon, like a lot.

Bacon bacon bacon. 😀 I did until I knew what part of the pig it was. And then I dropped it pretty quickly.

I’ll definitely miss gelatin, though. 🙁

Oh gosh, do I want to know? I don’t-don’t tell me. Strange enough I never liked gelatin-even when Bill Cosby tried to get me to eat it.

As a born and bred Mainer (who has never liked lobster, weirdly, even before beginning to keep kosher), it’s not really lobster if it’s not steamed in ocean water. You heard it here first!

Also, I’m hugely jealous that you’re getting some Maine summer. Would that I could say the same- I’m not going to get there for about another year, sadly.

Maine was awesome. I loved every minute of it. The beach, the lakes, the weather.

Lobstah? Nah-I’m over it.

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