Fanfare For the Kosher Man(ischewitz)

As I’ve mentioned before (in “Pork-nography” and “Pork-nography Revisited“), it’s a shame that “cooking kosher” has become somehow synonymous with “restricted and limited beyond all hope of having culinary validity”. I don’t think it’s that hard to imagine a setting where “kosher” is simply part of the rules of the game. Not the ONLY restriction, and not even a required, continuous restriction (I’m talking in terms of the larger culinary world, here, not the Jewish community) but simply another acceptable and welcomed style of cooking. Kosher cooking should be able to stand – proudly and un-self-consciously – shoulder to shoulder with French, Asian and other cooking styles.

Hopefully that will come about sooner rather than later.

I wrote recently (“Top Kosher Chef“) about a culinary school in New Jersey that teaches classic styles within a kosher context. That’s a good first step.

And now this Tablet Magazine article (“Eat, Eat“) has come out highlighting The Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off (which just celebrated it’s 5th year) brought cooking legend Jacques Pepin to the judging table. It doesn’t get more legitimate than that.

What was most inspiring was his attitude. Kosher was not some monumental obstacle that disrupted his creative culinary muse. It was just the nature of the setting – the same as if he were judging (and cooking) in a vegetarian context, or using all-local ingredients in some exotic locale. Of the fact that he couldn’t complete his vélouté with cream, he said,

“Normally, we finish with some cream, but of course, it’s kosher, so you cannot. We tried non-dairy creamer, but then we decided it was better to have it plain.”

No crime against gastronomy. Simply C’est la vie.

You can read the full article here, which is encouraging for the attitudes, but also for the implied changes brewing over at Manischewitz.

I am hopeful that more good (and oh by the way, kosher) things will served up soon.