Monday, February 27, 2012

The Very Not Kosher Banquet: A Theoretical Exercise of Halakha, Creativity, and Truly Bizarre Culinary Mathematics

I spend a lot of time thinking about kosher food and keeping kosher, particularly given that I've kept a form of kosher for a year and a half now.

I don't keep the strictest kashrut by any measure. I eat out, I'll eat non-kosher meat that's slaughtered in ways as un-barbaric as slaughter can be, I don't mind if food is prepared on Shabbat. I don't follow some of the stricter measures. Some people say I just keep kosher-style, but I prefer "liberal kashrut." Particularly given that I expressly refuse to eat meat from certain kosher providers, because of a) animal treatment and b) not paying their workers and c) bad health inspection.

At the same time, I don't eat expressly forbidden things. I'm still insane about reading ingredients on packaged food, I wait between milk and meat and meat and milk, and if you put breadcrumbs near me during Passover I will throw things at you. 

As you can see, I can go on and on about kashrut.

So sometimes I go into classic kashrut mode: what is the most treif dish I could construct?

This exercise is a pretty common form of self-entertainment for us Jews. However, it tends to crash after 15 minutes - as my friend Michael says:

You just end up eating a cheeseburger on Passover.

On Passover.

That's pretty unsatisfying. I've spent a lot of procrastinating time over the past few months trying to construct the Ur-Treif. I thought I was pretty good when I got up to vulture soup and complex bouillabaisses. Then I got bested. At NUJLS last weekend, I got handed human blood garnishes and bathroom cuisine by two other friends. They win.

I realized: well, this is becoming an immensely complex dish. Then it occurred to me: a banquet!

This menu is the result of a lot of thought, theoretical exercise, and scouring my brain for possible laws to break. It covers a range of violations from the very basic (bacon) to the very arcane, rarely followed (open water around serpents). I've ruined some traditional Jewish dishes, and created some other ones. And I borrowed two from our ancient friends in Rome, as well as our Filipino, Laotian and Southern friends.

Feel free to add to this list. So many obscure prohibitions; so few items on this list.

Credit to: Hillel for the chicken, Douglas G. for the sushi ingredient, Danya for reminding me of the apple rule, Sarah O. for the garnish on the salad, Zach B. for the cholent cooking location, and Michael F. for the last item. 


The Very Not Kosher Banquet:
1. Challah, made with water left open in proximity to Belinda, a young cobra
2. Israeli Salad with a garnish of the chef’s own blood
3. Potato kugel with bacon bits
4. Matzoh ball soup in a vulture-based broth
5. Gefilte fish with catfish and carp
6. Deviled eggs with shrimp filling
7. Steamed vegetables with untithed grain
8. Cholent, left to cook uncovered in a bathroom stall
9. French onion soup, with animal-rennet cheddar
10. Ribs
11. Balut
12. Eel and cod bouillabaisse
13. Monkfish sushi
14. Apple custard pie, made with apples from a one-year-old tree
15. Caesar salad, with croutons from bread baked on 17 Nisan (3rd day of Pesach)
16. Sciatic nerves, stir-fried in garlic oil
17. Roast chicken in a cilantro-yogurt sauce
18. Roman-style stuffed dormice
19. Wine made by the monks of Monte Argentario for Communion
20. Wine produced by a South German pig farmer
21. Venison Carpaccio, made with a freshly shot deer
22. Bee larvae soufflé
23. Potato latkes, fried in beef kidney fats
24. Roast turkey, prepared from a bird with a broken wing
25. Chicken wings from live chickens
26. Cake, made from flour of Israeli, newly-planted wheat from the Nahal’al kibbutz
27. Brussels sprouts grown in the shade of a grapevine
28. Tuna-Beef Casserole
29. Passover Cheeseburger Sliders

Bee larvae

1 comment:

  1. I'm very eager to obtain a good recipe for stuffed dormice. The one I have makes them tough as shoe leather. Also, I wanted to suggest a compote of windfall fruit.