Twenty-five years ago, I came to the United States from Bangkok to get an MBA, and within a couple of years I was keeping kosher. Since then, I helped set up weekly kiddushes for several years, made a large Thai meal as a fundraiser for Chabad of Seattle, and fried bananas for a Chanukah party at the Young Israel of Elkins Park outside Philadelphia. Frequently, I’m asked about Thai cuisine and where to get kosher Thai ingredients.
Food has been an integral part of Jewish culture for thousands of years. Year after year, we read many Biblical stories about food, such as the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, and of Jacob and Esau and the lentil stew. While the Torah provides specific guidance on the laws of kashrut, it does not include instructions on what it means to eat “healthy.” We are left to ask ourselves — what does a healthy diet look like?
Gabriel Geller, well-known wine consultant for Royal Wines, recently offered to answer any questions we had about wine, as a fun change from the traditional wine columns he writes for us around this time of year. We enjoyed hearing his off-the-cuff responses and we hope you will enjoy the top four questions and answers we picked in honor of the season.
Passover is a universal holiday for Jews, which has been celebrated for thousands of years. While the order of the seder is the same for most Jewish communities, the symbolic foods served on the holiday tend to be made differently for each group. In many Ashkenazi (Eastern European) communities, for instance, charoset was traditionally, made from apples, wine, cinnamon, and walnuts; in Sephardic communities, dates and other dried fruits are combined with fragrant spices and then puréed into a paste.
Poor food options at the George Washington University have been a frequent complaint for years, but to students who keep kosher, it has proven to be an even greater issue. One sophomore decided to change that.
With the closing of the J Street dining hall in order to bring in a new restaurant, and the opening of the District House food court, the arrival of new food options was celebrated by most students. But the one thing it continued to lack was an option for GW students who keep kosher. This is what inspired Carly Meisel, along with Rivky Steiner, Sophia Brener, Yoni Kintzer and Rabbi Yudi Steiner to create the Brooklyn Sandwich Co. food truck.
“I drink to make other people more interesting.” In this quote, attributed to Ernest Hemingway, the act of drinking is a means to an end rather than an enjoyable end in itself.
From the standard kos (cup) for Shabbat Kiddush to the all-out party of Purim, drinking, as a part of Jewish life, exists on a spectrum; in all contexts, however, it is associated with a shared joy or festive occasion. Ours is not the solemn wine and wafer but the kiddush club schnapps, the bottle of Bartenura gifted to the host of a Shabbat meal, and the perennial rise of potato vodka and Slivovitz when Pesach rolls around. Enjoying oneself through drink is such an accepted part of Judaism that the Talmud tell us a person who temporarily swears off wine to become a nazir brings a guilt offering in the Temple at the end of this voluntary period of abstention. Why? To paraphrase Maimonides: moderation is a Jewish virtue, but wholesale self-denial of pleasure is not.
Cookbook author Paula Shoyer has been busy the last few weeks working on Pesach recipes for TV shows as well as magazine and newspaper articles. We caught up with her the week her beautiful Pesach pies appeared in the Washington Post.
Kol HaBirah: What recipes will you make at home this Pesach?
With Passover fast approaching, award-winning executive chef Nir Elkayam of the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel has created mouthwatering recipes for the holiday.
“The greatest challenge of Passover is creating tasty recipes despite the restrictions of the holiday,” said executive chef Nir Elkayam. “These recipes reflect the holiday spirit and prove that Passover food doesn’t need to taste as if its lacking.”
“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more wine.” Ernest Hemingway once again brings us the perfect quote to start of our discussion of libations. Indeed, given its antioxidant effects cited in several research articles, many of us could use more wine in our lives. If only Mr. Hemingway had been Jewish, he may have gotten his wish.
Over roughly the past 10 years, both kosher and non-kosher consumers have become obsessed with dips. Why the obsession? For kosher consumers, I believe there are two major factors. One is that the many yeshiva and seminary students who study in Israel are introduced to dips in Israeli/Mediterranean food. The second is due to the health craze. Most dips are vegetarian and work well with healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, cucumber slices and celery sticks. Dips are a fun and integral item that can be enjoyed at all parties and occasions.
What’s new for the Kosher Kitchen Catering Co., and why make changes now?
Washington, D.C. has become known as a culinary hotspot with all kinds of top-rated restaurants and fusion-style foods, so I felt the market was ready for a new caterer that appeals to everyone in the community—not just those needing kosher, but also those who want to experience world-class foods and elegant presentations. Therefore, we’re also rebranding our full-service offering: Medina Cuisine (www.medinacuisine.com). Specializing in gourmet catering and event production, the new brand will be a source for high-end venues who have discerning tastes.
- Talking with YeahThatsKosher.com’s Dani Klein
- Punch Up Your Purim
- Cauliflower Crust Pizza Hamen-taschen
- Drinking on Purim
- Greasy Gold: Our fat correspondent explores the world of ‘Nouvelle Schmaltz’
- Israeli-Style Chocolate Orange Tart
- Curative Cocktails: A Little Zing for Fighting Wintertime Ills
- YGW announces second season of “DC EATS”
- Deep Dish Love in the Afternoon: Lunch at Russ and Daughters at New York’s Jewish Museum
- This Wine Costs What? At least now you’ll know why.