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Inconsistent Consistency

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Given my learning curve with all things domestic, it will be of little surprise to learn that I have been perusing recipes, “how-to” articles, etc. for the past several weeks in preparation for my first Thanksgiving feast.

Trying to create a menu that will satisfy the limited palates — without violating any of our dietary restrictions (pork, shellfish, dairy/meat together) — is a bit challenging.

In my food blog travels this month, I see that Green Bean Casserole is a popular side dish at the modern-day Thanksgiving Feast. And green beans happen to be one of the few veggies on which all Frummies can agree. However, the Green Bean Casserole is a milchig dish. Cream of Mushroom being, apparently, the proverbial glue upon which this entire recipe hangs. So no Green Bean Casserole for us.

Ha-HA! It just so happens that I found a recipe for a pareve Green Bean Casserole. Perfect!

Except…

Except…except it still looks milchig and, I expect, still tastes milchig.

I can already hear DadGiraffe countering with, “don’t you use pareve margarine at fleishig meals?” [Which, by the way, is not so easy to find. While nearly all stores carry Fleischmann’s Original, it is only their Unsalted that is pareve.] And, yes, yes I do use pareve margarine. No one who has ever eaten it or looked at it could actually confuse it with butter. While eating something cooked with margarine, one does not get the sense that it is a dairy dish. But this recipe is meant to replicate the taste and consistency of a dairy dish.

Inconsistent? Perhaps. But with a reason that makes sense to me.

In what ways do you create boundaries that might seem inconsistent to others??

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 22 November 2011 12:30 pm

    I’ve heard this conversation all abuzz around Passover time: the “kosher-for-Passover” bagels, Cheerios… etc. Ditto for the kosher Subway in our neighborhood, where the soy is cheese. Good idea/bad idea? Cool way to be kosher within the letter of the law, or bad way to circumvent its spirit? Curious what you’d say.

    • The nudnik permalink
      Tuesday, 22 November 2011 1:45 pm

      Ruchi,

      Most of that fake Pesach stuff is repulsive. I try to convince my wife to stick to basics with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. More healthy and less expensive. I just have to make time to do my share of checking lettuce.

  2. The nudnik permalink
    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 12:35 pm

    When I was a child (before I started keeping kosher) I remember a Conservative rabbi condemning Coffee Rich from the pulpit.

    My wife makes the recipes that she makes and they taste how they taste. She uses Earth Balance margarine, soy milk, etc., She does not concern herself whether someone might think that something she serves with a meat meal “tastes” like dairy or the opposite or that something she serves with a dairy meal “tastes” like meat. The people who eat in our home know that she is Shomeret Shabbat and Shomeret Kashrut. Anyone who does not trust her level of observance is not going to eat in our home in the first place.

    Last Shabbat, we had among our guests someone who is not Jewish. As she was about to leave, I asked her:
    “Are you a baker?”
    “Yes. Why do you ask?”
    “I thought you might be interested to know that because we served chicken as part of the meal, there was no butter or milk in any of the desserts.”
    Her eyes widened in astonishment.

  3. Tuesday, 22 November 2011 12:51 pm

    I say enjoy your meal! That green bean casserole sounds amazing I am SO making it. If it were just a recipe you found on the web, with no association with the dairy recipe, would you be as conflicted?

    Also, margaritas with the meal help erase any conflict you may have 🙂

  4. Tuesday, 22 November 2011 1:26 pm

    Ruchi the Pesach thing drives me nuts. Not sure why I feel differently for Pesach, but I refuse to have the pesadik cereal, bagels, etc. It just defeats the spirit of the law for me. I do feel differently about dairy-like foods, although I am unable to bring myself to put fake cheese on my Subway or hamburgers 🙂

    I guess we can put “Jewish bacon” (Boris’s “breakfast beef”) in this same category – that doesn’t bother me either for some reason. It’s a special treat I only make it when we have Burger Bar, which is only on a birthday by request.

    Interesting RES what say you?

    • The nudnik permalink
      Tuesday, 22 November 2011 1:46 pm

      Leah,

      How do you feel about fake pepperoni on your pizza? Veggie burgers?

      • Tuesday, 22 November 2011 2:05 pm

        well good question. i probably would like the fakeroni and i do like veggie burgers, but they taste nothing like actual burgers i like them for the veggie quality. don’t really know why the whole Pesach thing bothers me other than i can cop to the whole “Jews go insane during Pesach” claim.

  5. Tuesday, 22 November 2011 1:59 pm

    I couldn’t pull the Talmud reference without wrecking my schedule for the rest of the day, but I distinctly recall hearing and reading that kashrut was not – categorically and specifically NOT – intended that Jews couldn’t experience certain tastes. It is the food item itself which was forbidden.

    Whether you go real cheese/fake meat or fake cheese/real meat (Rabbi SpiceRock, from GoingKosher.wordpress.com, insists that the former is always preferable), the cheeseburger itself, in it’s kosher incarnation is just fine.

    I’ve read a midrash stating that God created other (kosher) items which replicated the taste of non-kosher animals for this specific reason. After eating some really amazingly prepared beef bacon I’m inclined to agree.

    On the other hand, I’m there with Leah and Nudnik on the Passover Bagels. First, they are unbelievably unpalateable (not to mention often undigestable). Second, the difference is in the duration. Like a fast day, the shortness of Passover is supposed to give us a chance to experience something specific, and then come away from that experience transformed.

    Nobody is supposed to have that one REALLY transformative fast and never eat again; nor is anyone expected, should they have the perfect Passover, to give up chametz for life. (conversely, we ARE supposed to eschew Matzah for the rest of the year. Them Rabbis knew a good aversion therapy when they saw it.). And only if you actually experience the lack of chametz will you appreciate the lesson.

    But Kashrut isn’t a day, or 8 or the Three Weeks, or whatever. It’s The. Rest. Of. Your. Life. As such, I put it in a different category.

    (hey, look, I can see my house from up here… on this… soapbox. Ahem. Sorry about that.)

    Hope your Thanksgiving, with or without the greenbean casserole, is a winner.

    – Leon

  6. Tuesday, 22 November 2011 2:06 pm

    OH RIGHT! what ET said. that’s why I feel differently about Pesach. Thank you for articulating that for me ET.

  7. The nudnik permalink
    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 2:10 pm

    Leah,

    I agree that a plain fake burger does not taste anything like real. But when you dress it with lettuce, onion, etc., it is closer. Grilling helps too. Morningstar Farms products are dairy (or dairy equipment) but Lightlife is all pareve, AFAIK. So is Dr. Prager’s.

    Tofurky makes some amazing fake sausage. Italian, Kielbasa, Beer Brat. It has the right spices.

    • Tuesday, 22 November 2011 2:59 pm

      nudnik thanks! i’m not a vegetarian, so i prefer the real sausages my butcher makes – he has a whole variety – Italian, South African (boerwers or however you spell it), marguez, plain old chicken sausage with sage, etc. YUM!

      • The nudnik permalink
        Tuesday, 22 November 2011 3:03 pm

        I am also not a vegetarian.

        However, my internist has suggested that if I would like to meet my grandchildren, I need to control my intake of food in general and those kinds of foods in particular. I do not yet have a cardiologist and am hoping to avoid that.

        We very rarely eat red meat. Except for Shabbat and Yom Tov, I eat a lot of pareves.

  8. Mimi permalink
    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 2:46 pm

    I just discovered Trader Joe’s Almond Milk. It comes in a carton and tastes terrific. I used it in the kugel that I made and it turned out delicious. The onion, mushroom kugel doesn’t look like it’s impersonating a milchig dish.

  9. Meira permalink
    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 5:21 pm

    If it’s pareve, it’s pareve . . .but from a pragmatic perspective . . . sometimes those substitutions don’t cook up so great. (My kid has many food allergies, and I’ve tried to come up with similar looking foods for many occasions and it rarely tastes “right”.)

    So I don’t try anymore. She IS different. And she is wonderful, so I give her what she is allowed to have in a way that is as palatable as possible to a 5 year old.

    But I’m not sure it matters if the reason why something is “allowed” is allergies or kashrut. I would think the same logic would apply.

    If you’re making the casserole b/c it sounds delicious—good luck, I hope it turns out great.

    But if you’re making it to fit in, somehow, with what the manufacturers of canned grean beans and those crunchy onion things are telling us is Thanksgiving-y, don’t bother. Make something else that is delicious and fresh and locally available and talk to your kids the way you talk to all of us from your blog–about the blessings of being Jewish and different and why we should be grateful for that.

    And for the record, thumbs down on Pesach rolls, thumbs up on chocolate matzoh. 🙂

  10. Wednesday, 23 November 2011 2:43 pm

    I’m SO with you on this!!! A premium supermarket Chain in Minnesota–Byerlys–opened a kosher section in their store in the more frum area of town. The bakery is pareve, but so many of the cakes, etc, are things people would expect to be dairy. For example, they have a pareve Boston Cream Pie, French Silk, and other desserts that are just WRONG in their pareve versions—at least in my opinion. It’s 100% chemical. GROSS!

  11. Wednesday, 23 November 2011 11:08 pm

    So… for the record, agreed that Passover junk is awful, expensive, unpalatable, and against my principles. ET I think you put it well. Margarine too 🙂

    The soy cheese and fake meat I just have a visceral reaction to. I do use soy milk to replace milk in baking, with good results, although, having kept strictly kosher my whole life, I never even ate a dairy Boston Cream Pie! The treats were pretty much offered on Shabbat, when we ate meat-based meals, so they were just always pareve. (Ditto for not knowing till a month ago that split pea soup is “supposed to” have ham or something of the sort…?)

    Our supermarket also opened a kosher room and I dislike it. Lots of tabatchnik processed junk. I wish I could hang a sign there: “Folks. The whole produce section is kosher too.”

    • Monday, 28 November 2011 6:41 pm

      Yeah, and traditional Mexican beans are made with lard. Sad.

    • The nudnik permalink
      Monday, 28 November 2011 7:06 pm

      Ruchi,
      While our split pea soup is usually pareve, we have experimented with sausage, both “real” and “fake”. Both seem to work.

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