[Sca-cooks] Why *X* and not *Y*?
Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius
adamantius1 at verizon.net
Fri Aug 1 06:39:56 PDT 2008
On Aug 1, 2008, at 8:18 AM, Heleen Greenwald wrote:
> I really respect your curiosity and willingness to try new
> things...... I wish I could make myself be more like you!
Do you think your reservations are entirely personal and not the
result of some cultural pressure to stick within certain boundaries?
I'm just wondering. I mean, from my own experience, I was brought up
by a mother who was a mildly adventurous eater (who would occasionally
get herself into more trouble than expected, like the time she ordered
sea cucumber in a Chinese restaurant, thinking it would be a salad),
and a father who would try new things, but had his prejudices, too (he
hated lamb and mutton for no better reason than that his own father
had acquired a healthy disrespect for them, courtesy of the US
Marines, c. ~1912).
But then, they weren't really brought up with a list in their heads of
foods that were good to eat, and those that were not, and a lot of
people have been, in a way.
I guess what I mean is, there's the attitude that says, unfamiliar
foods are just familiar foods you haven't tried yet, and then there's
the one that says, these familiar foods are safe, and these others,
not so much.
I had an interesting experience last summer, when my sister, who is a
convert to Judaism within a relatively conservative congregation, came
to New York to visit my mother and various other family members in the
area. I found myself faced with the prospect of finding restaurants
they could comfortably visit. By definition, they'd need to be Kosher,
but they also needed to be Glatt Kosher. And while their specific
requirements were such that it was possible for them to surf a menu at
a Glatt kosher restaurant, order carefully and avoiding whatever
obvious pitfalls might exist for the unwary but otherwise observant
person, what it turned out was needed for a best-case scenario was a
Glatt Kosher restaurant that had been approved by the particular
rabbinical association, or maybe it's more a confederation of
congregations, to which her own congregation belongs.
The point was that when we'd found such a place, which I finally did,
they could go in there and order anything on the menu, secure at least
in the knowledge that they need not concern themselves in any way with
how the tomatoes were washed and cut, or whatever other concerns a
person living under such dietary restrictions might have. And in the
end, it always seems to be a better experience when you can find a
place and put yourself in the hands of the people who do this for a
living, and turn off the worry switch.
Now, what the place turned out to serve was very different from what
most Glatt Kosher restaurants in New York serve; it was neither the
typical Ashkanazic Kosher deli fare, nor pizza or other Italian food,
nor Chinese nor Japanese, but Persian. I was a little surprised to
find them, but it was a pretty serious, high-end sort of place.
What was interesting and fun was watching my sister and her children
encounter some things that were very different not only from what they
had experienced at home, but also from what they had experienced in
New York. And then there were the things that are familiar to most
people who've been in the Middle East, a preponderance of eggplant,
tomatoes, and preserved lemons, to say nothing of The Mysterious Third
Shaker on the tables, which, after salt and pepper, turned out to be
The whole thing was a big success, and I think part of the reason why
was that everybody was able to order a meal in absolute confidence
that they could base their decisions entirely on what they wanted, and
on no other considerations. I guess nobody had any major allergy
concerns... ;-). It was fun, though, to be with a group of people who,
after they had gotten their major concerns taken care of and out of
the way, could sort of let their hair down and concentrate on enjoying
themselves for a while...
> On Jul 30, 2008, at 12:39 AM, Audrey Bergeron-Morin wrote:
> If somebody, somewhere, thinks something tastes good, I certainly
> have no obligation to like it, but I will at least have the
> curiosity to taste it.
"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's
-- Rabbi Israel Salanter
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