Archive | December, 2016

The Hardest Part About Keeping Kosher

26 Dec

screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-11-38-53-amForget the prohibition against eating milk and meat together, though cheeseburgers do sound, and look and smell, delicious. And forget all those other mystifying rules (the Bible doesn’t specify why God wants Jews to observe certain dietary restrictions; it just lists the rules and assume we’ll listen) that keep us (semi-) law-abiding Jews from enjoying treats like lobster and crispy fried bacon.

If you’re someone who tries to keep kosher, such as myself, then as the years go by you get used to the feeling of missing out. It becomes part of your DNA.

Some things, though, seem inane, and I’m not talking about any of the laws. The other day I was at Madison Square Garden and I decided to treat myself to a beef burrito from MSG’s kosher stand, ran by a kosher restaurant named Carlos & Gabby’s. The burrito comes with this creamy avocado ranch dressing. Sounds delicious, right? I thought so, too. Then I sat down and tried to unwrap the damn thing. That’s when I ran into this piece of orange tape that I swear the Hulk himself would have trouble ripping. I spent 10 minutes gnawing at this tape with my nails and teeth and plastic knife. It was like trying to break into Fort Knox.

Anyone who keeps kosher no doubt knows what I’m referring to, and has experienced this frustration before. But for those unaware, here’s a quick primer:

For kosher food to remain kosher it can’t come in contact with any non-kosher food, or, technically, with anything that’s even touched non-kosher food. So a chicken could be killed in accordance with all of Judaism’s laws, and it could have been cooked in a kosher kitchen, and packaged under the watchful eye of a mashgiach, meaning someone who is aware of all of Judaism’s kosher laws (and no, contrary to popular thought, there is no blessing from a rabbi required, nor does one take place), and all that could happen and yet if at some point the piece of chicken is rested on a plate that at one point served a cheeseburger then it immediately morphs into a non-kosher piece of food.

That’s where the tape comes in. It’s there to signify that the food hasn’t been tampered with since it left the kosher institution. If the tape is broken, then you have a problem, or at least those who care about such things do. And so I get why it’s there, and why it can’t just be a piece of CVS-brand scotch tape.

But I think the Jews have taken this too far.

Opening my sandwich should not cause me to break a sweat. You know what happened when I finally broke my burrito free of its prison?

Chunks of beef and rice came pouring out. All the shifting back and forth had ripped a hole in my tortilla.

I understand the desire to ensure that everything remains kosher, but certainly there must be a better way. I say we either adopt more of an honor system (if someone decided to fuck with all the Jews by taking every MSG kosher burrito out its foil, then dipping them all into some sort bacon sauce, only to re-package them and sell them to Jews—well, I say that person deserves his or her victory just for the putting in that much work). But keeping kosher is hard enough without this obstacle course.

So, God, here’s my offer:

Either provide one of your followers with the plans for some sort of special tape.

Or it’s back to “non-kosher” tuna wraps for me.

The choice is yours.