Food Crosses All Boundaries

There may not be many articles in Ha’Aretz that charedim would agree with, but here’s one that all can… well, scratch that. Ashkenazic Jews aren’t particularly known for enjoying spicy foods, either.

There are exceptions, though. A friend of mine grows hot peppers in his back yard, and a year ago at Sukkos time he gave me a horseradish jar filled with his home-brewed hot sauce. Although I use it pretty frequently, the fill level is down less than an inch — what can be served on the end of a toothpick is enough to make a bowl of soup hot. The peppers he grows have names like “Orange Explosion” and “Trinidad Birds,” and are marketed by heat level — with a scale of one to eight bombs on the label. Aficionados (and those who read the article) will know that they are measuring the amount of capsaicin usually found in each variety of pepper.

Mark Frankel writes that “You Can Thank BTs for Kosher Sushi,” meaning that Baalei Teshuvah (those who adopted Orthodoxy) brought their tastes with them, resulting in the demand for sushi among Kosher consumers. I suppose that’s true — I acquired a taste for sushi in Hawaii as a ninth grader, and recall a school’s annual dinner about seven years ago where I was seated with a group of Rabbis who looked on with a mixture of awe and, well, some other expression, as I enjoyed a plate of maki rolls.

One of the comments on Mark’s site suggests that “sushi is just one symptom of … ‘let’s be like everyone else in the world, but kosher.'” I disagree — sushi is hardly comparable to “glatt cruises.” Sushi (especially made with vegetables or cooked fish) is both healthy and tasty, and there’s no reason to look askance at those who didn’t check their food tastes at the door when they became frum — or at those Orthodox individuals who have looked beyond traditional European staples.

This isn’t just a matter of taste, but health — perhaps the ultimate traditional Jewish food, cholent, stewing in beef fat for 22 hours, isn’t going to be regaled for its health benefits any time soon. (There’s a great pareve cholent recipe in Kosher by Design, which is published by ArtScroll.)

One of my associates is of Yemenite origin — he makes chicken with a Habanero Mango sauce for Shabbos Shabbat. You may not want to try this at home.

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2 Responses

  1. Mar Gavriel says:

    Actually, Yemenite pronunciation would be neither Shabbos nor Shabbat, but “Shabboth”.

  2. Yaakov Menken says:

    Good point! He sent me “Shabbawth.”

    And now that it has been requested:

    4 habanero chiles, chopped, stems and seeds removed
    1 small white onion, chopped
    1 fresh mango, chopped
    3 tb golden raisins
    1/8 ts tumeric
    1 fresh lime, pulped with the juice

    Cover the chiles with water in a saucepan. Place on the stove, add the onions and simmer until the chiles are softened. Add the mango and the raisins, raise the heat, and just before it begins to boil, remove from the heat. Add lime pulp and chill.

    We haven’t tried this yet. I’d probably get through it, but my wife and kids have tamer palates. If you do, go easy on the chiles the first time — Habaneros are very hot.

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