Stories without recipes

Kosher

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Kosher

Oink. (Translation: Eat me.)

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S and her husband are devout Jews, and as a part of their faith, S keeps a kosher household.  

Note that I said "keeps a kosher household" and not, "keeps kosher." What's the difference? About 100 feet, or the distance that separated S from my mother-in-law's house until last year, when S and her husband moved to Florida.  

Devout or not, a person has needs. And so, once in a while, when the cravings got too great, S would creep out her back door, look left and right before crossing the service drive, and then dash toward my mother-in-law's house. The table would already be set for lunch: two BLTs on toast, hold the mayo.

The laws of kashrut are very clear when it comes to pork and shellfish: not allowed. And yet, even for the strictest adherents, there's still bacon to consider. We have around 80 short years on earth (if we're lucky) and we're going to give up bacon? I don't think so, and apparently, neither does S.

It would be easy enough to laugh, except who among us doesn't have food foibles of our own? My husband ended more than a dozen years of vegetarianism in one moment of weakness. He was spending a month in Kansas for work, living in a lousy motel and missing home. In other words, he was bored sick and figured a change in his diet would shake things up. What he chose as his first taste of meat, though, still surprises even years later: a Slim Jim. And though my friends say I get a little preachy about sustainable agriculture, you'll know my son by the bottle of purple Gatorade he's slugging back on the soccer field.

Meanwhile, a friend who has long scoffed at my food fanaticism recently admitted that not only has she begun buying organic eggs, she's even started to dabble in foods I would eat only under duress, like seitan. And so it goes.

Did S's husband know of his wife's transgression? That remains a secret that the two of them share. No matter what anyone else thinks, though, I sympathize with S. I worry about her, all the way down in Florida, and I wonder if she's found an understanding neighbor willing to fry up bacon sandwiches on the sly. It's good to have faith and all that, but this is bacon we're talking about.

Laws come and laws go, but only one truth is timeless and irrefutable: Life is short. Eat it up with gratitude (and sour pickles on the side).

updated 7 years ago

ADD COMMENT

sarah mashaThursday, January 10th 2008 3:26PM

Ye-ouch!!!
I have been kosher for ~30 years.  I am 49.  I do know what bacon, shrimp, etc. taste like, and I do not miss them.
You say "laws come and laws go".  The laws are to prevent us from making distance between G-d and ourselves.  The Torah existed before time, it's laws are not man made, they do not come and go.
I hope your friend finds the strength to resist what is clearly a very difficult temptation in the future.  I can tell her it is possible to keep herself kosher. Friend husband and I, oh, do we have stories....