[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!
> Phillipa

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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