Each May, Jewish American Heritage Month is celebrated in recognition of the more than 350 years of Jewish contributions to our nation. During this month, we are celebrating their food traditions.
Many of us have heard the term, “kosher”, but what exactly does it mean? “Kosher” translates to “allowed”, “okay”, or “fit to eat”. For a food to be deemed “kosher” it must be prepared and eaten in specific ways.
For example, the animals from which the food comes must have been raised and slaughtered humanely. Also, meat and dairy cannot be eaten together. Eating both the animal and its mother’s milk is assumed to be insulting to the animal. Jewish people that closely observe kosher guidelines have separate dishes and cooking utensils for meat and dairy products. Other rules may be followed for reasons related to cleanliness.
For example, a Jewish person who follows kosher eating laws would not eat shrimp or other shellfish because they are “bottom-dwellers” and are believed to be “unclean.” Similarly, pork is not allowed because it was once deemed “unclean.” Traditional Jewish foods may vary by geographical region. For example, Jewish people from Germany, France and Eastern Europe might eat bagels, lox, dill pickles and chicken soup. While in the Middle East, Spain, Portugal or Africa, popular foods include stuffed eggplant and other vegetables, pickled vegetables, lamb, nuts, falafel, chickpeas, olives and stuffed grape leaves. If you’re wanting to learn more about Jewish cuisine, the following link has some great recipes to try: https://www.jewishfoodsociety.org
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Published by Ashley Wild.