Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jewish Atheist's Top Ten Non-Kosher Foods

Time for a more light-hearted post. One of the more fun aspects of making the Orthodox->atheist transition is getting to experience a whole new universe of foods for the first time, as an adult.

If you are offended by descriptions of non-kosher foods, please stop reading now. You've been warned.




10. Calamari (squid.) These little guys, lightly breaded and fried, are a delicious appetizer. They taste more-or-less like any other fried thing, but chewier.

9. Wine. Of course, there is good kosher wine, which is why this isn't closer to the top of my list. But good non-kosher wine is so much more plentiful that it had to make the list. Virtually any non-kosher restaurant you go to has decent wine, which can add a lot to the enjoyment of a meal.

8. Lobster. I suspect these giant bugs would be higher on my list if I'd had them more, but so far I've only had them in a bisque or inside pasta or something. Very rich and tasty.

7. Crab cakes. They're just great. Often offered as an appetizer, but I like two as an entree.

6. New England Clam Chowder. One of my favorite soups. Salty, chewy, creamy. Stay away from the Manhattan kind, as it's made by sadists who think clams go in a tomato base.

5. Cheeseburgers. The combination of two basic kosher foods, the cheeseburger has somehow become the stereotype of non-kosher. (Mixing dairy and meat is a no-no in kosher foods.) Yet once you've had one, you realize that cheese belongs on top of a hamburger and that's all there is to it. (In fact, cheese goes on pretty much everything: chicken, spaghetti with meat sauce, deli sandwiches, etc.) The cheeseburger can be made deliciously low-brow, as at Burger King, or classed up by using fine beef and a good cheddar, mozzarella, or feta.

4. Shrimp. Versatile, delicious, and even healthy! Fried southern style or in tempura, grilled, broiled in a butter sauce, stir-fried, split over sushi rice, cooked pretty much any way, one of my favorite foods.

3. Eel. "Eel??" say the Orthodox Jews. Yes, eel. Specifically, unagi, the freshwater eel that's grilled and brushed with sauce, served over sushi rice. I always save it for last when I have sushi.

2. Bouillabaisse. Holy crap is this good. A fish stew with saffron, fennel, and all kinds of fish and shellfish. It's just frickin' unbelievable.

And the number one non-kosher food is..........

.
.
.


1. BACON! Bacon may be the single best non-chocolate food in the world. It's crispy, it's salty, it's greasy, it's simply amazing. Great with eggs. It can also transforms a boring turkey sandwich into a divine experience. (If you add avacado, too... you'll find God.)

52 comments:

asher said...

Ah yes,
The culinary delights of bottom feeders and shellfish.

No ham or pork on the list I see. Well, no one really wants to tempt the trickanosis virus if you can help it.

Please explain why kosher food is so popular that the majority of people who buy it are neither jewish nor muslim. And by the way, one of the reasons you can't get a meal on a flight within the United States is due to the prohibitive cost of kosher meals that was requested by too many people over the years.

CyberKitten said...

I miss bacon.......... [chuckle].

Random said...

It isn't just kosher types who are vulnerable to bacon's superpowers - it's apparently the number one reason for vegetarians falling off the wagon too.

inclidentally, if you like bacon and you like chocolate, you absolutely must try chocolate covered bacon - I have, and it's bizarrely tasty:-)

mushroomjew said...

I've discovered New England Clam Chowder since recently going off the kosher diet. So I guess I have a lot more foods to look forward to. I'm a little scared of lobster since their bodies (and biologically I think they're related) resemble insects- which are taboo to manhattan apartment dwellers.

Esther said...

JA: I agree about bacon although I must say that many of the non-kosher foods that I love can only be eaten periodically and in small quantities to avoid health-related problems.

Other examples: Pork sausages can be pretty great. I particularly like the breakfast varieties.

Also: raw oysters. I've stopped eating then entirely because they're so toxic eating them is like Russian roulette.

I would also add all types of non-kosher cheese - particularly the smelly aged French varieties but even simple fresh cheeses like mozzarella. For whatever reason rennit-less cheese is not as tasty.

Jewish Atheist said...

asher:

Only you could try to turn this post into a debate. :-)

Random:

inclidentally, if you like bacon and you like chocolate, you absolutely must try chocolate covered bacon - I have, and it's bizarrely tasty:-)

are. you. serious? You're hereby responsible for my first heart attack.

I'm a little scared of lobster since their bodies (and biologically I think they're related) resemble insects- which are taboo to manhattan apartment dwellers.

:-) I hear you. Still, I got over most of my taboos through my love of sushi. Once you've eaten raw squid, octopus, fish eggs, etc., everything else starts looking reasonable.

Esther:

JA: I agree about bacon although I must say that many of the non-kosher foods that I love can only be eaten periodically and in small quantities to avoid health-related problems.

That's why the seafood is so awesome.

Other examples: Pork sausages can be pretty great. I particularly like the breakfast varieties.

They just missed my cut.

Also: raw oysters. I've stopped eating then entirely because they're so toxic eating them is like Russian roulette.

Apparently, people getting sick from oysters is on the rise, so you're probably right to stop.

I would also add all types of non-kosher cheese - particularly the smelly aged French varieties but even simple fresh cheeses like mozzarella. For whatever reason rennit-less cheese is not as tasty.

Good point! "Fancy" cheese is gooood.

moshe said...

"A divine experience"

even an atheist can have a divine experience??

Sadie Lou said...

Stay away from the Manhattan kind, as it's made by sadists who think clams go in a tomato base.

Ha! I had a good laugh out of that one. Clam Chowder is the absolute best. I worked at an Italian restaurant that served Clam Chowder on Fridays and I would cover the top of a huge, steaming bowl with fresh cracked black pepper. Yum!
I agree that bacon and avacado should marry and just get it over with--best food-couple of all time! Throw in some hot buttered sourdough bread and mayo and it's sandwich-heaven.

Meredith said...

I held off on bacon and pork products until I was 34 but being married to a goy (who is an atheist) and being pregnant at the time, I just could not resist the lure of the smell. Dear G-d, it is deeeeeelicious!

Stephen (aka Q) said...

I love shrimp and crab. But the best are probably the combinations you mention: cheese on a hamburger and bacon with turkey.

Or you can go really decadent and try chicken cordon bleu (chicken & ham & cheese).

david said...

I was going down your list and thinking: "Bacon had better be on here somewhere."

Well done (no pun intended).

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Bacon? Did you say bacon?

Pizza with extra cheese and pepperoni is number 1 for me.

Chicken Parmigiano is number two. I'll even do Veal Parmigiano (hiding under my computer desk right now)

Club sandwiches (chicken or turkey and bacon)

Lobster and crab as long as my wife cracks the shells for me (I hate doing any work when it comes to eating and some of those crab legs can hurt you, especially if you are frustrated)

Bacon cheeseburgers.

Pepperoni sticks

Assorted submarines

I'm not sure if I have a favorite Kosher food. Maybe the pickles, I'll eat em if they are on my plate.

I do love knishes and Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches. And of course a bagel with cream cheese and lox. Smoked fish is OK too.

The Atheologist said...

asher said,
"No ham or pork on the list I see."

I'm a vegetarian but I believe that bacon is a pork product.

Jewish Atheist said...

BEAJ: Yeah, veal is at the top of my Top Ten Foods I Feel Really Bad About Eating list. ;-)

asher:

The atheologist is correct. However, you're right, I haven't particularly enjoyed the ham I've had. It's fine as deli, but not as good as corned beef or pastrami, and ham steak isn't as good as beef steak. To be fair, I haven't had a real pork chop yet.

Esther said...

You know what's great but hard to get? Bacon Pizza! (The only place that makes it near me is Chuck E Cheese - a restaurant I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.)

JA, while ham may not satisfy in that deeply greasy way that good pastrami does, some days there's nothing like a ham and cheese sandwich on rye with mayo. It's got to be good cheese though - like Gruyere.

Shifting gears, here are some of my kosher faves (in no particular order):

Shav with a dollop of sour cream
Lox with bagels (a given)
Gefilte Fish (with the sweet jelly and loads of pink horseradish)!!
Smoked Sable!
Ba Tampte Brand Garlic pickles!

I happen to live in a kosher food mecca so let me know if anyone needs a kashe varnishes and stuffed derma care package...

asher said...

Damn...what about steamed clams...sounds like something even seagulls wouldn't touch. And what about those breakfast links by Jimmy Dean...during WWII they used to hold the tanks together with that stuff.

In the Jewish Beliefs chat room I often find myself in, the accepted wisdom is: these Jews; they only talk about food and sex (and sometimes at the same time) So JA, I suppose this is what you mean by being a cultural Jew.

Juggling Mother said...

I wasn't brought up kosher, but both my parents were, so there were many foods that just never entered the house as m y mother didn't know about them!

Bacon is fantastic - even all the veggies I know love bacon (although they don't eat it!), but when I was in Israel, the food I misses most was good cheese! Although I do love a good pork chop:-)

Aggie cooked Gammon steaks for us on our first date. I'd never seen gammon before. he was mortified when he found out poor lad:-)

Anonymous said...

What was the purpose of this post? Who are you trying to stick it to?

Why should anyone care what anyone else eats?

Juggling Mother said...

Anon - you're obviously paranoid - the purpose of this post was to discuss culinary delights - and especially new found ones. There are whole blogs (and magazines, books, tv shows etc) about it. JA writes one post and you get upset? I don't see that he was "sticking it" to anyone, just commenting on a gastronomic discovery.

Jewish Atheist said...

What was the purpose of this post?

As I wrote, I felt it was time for something lighthearted. This subject is directly related to this blog, which is largely about what it was like to leave Orthodoxy. It seems to have been of interest to other people as well.

Who are you trying to stick it to?

Nobody. I certainly hope you stopped reading when I wrote this:

If you are offended by descriptions of non-kosher foods, please stop reading now. You've been warned.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. A:

You sure learned a lot about me from one post! If you're not already a psychologist, perhaps that's a good career move for you; you diagnosed me as "obviously paranoid" before most professionals would have leaned back in their chairs!

JA:

I'm not offended by your post, so I read the whole thing. I just wonder - sticking with Mrs. A's DSM-IV approach - what lies beneath.

I read your blog from time to time, with great interest. Though I do not share the harshness of your cynicism about Orthodoxy, I appreciate, at least to some extent, how you've gotten where you are. To the extent that your background and experiences have made you an interesting contributor to the blogosphere, I humbly encourage more. But to the extent that some of this is - in my layman's opinion - rooted in a need to jab at those who first pushed you down this road, I find it unfortunate that you find those jabs necessary.

Jewish Atheist said...

Anonymous:

I admit that I sometimes give in to bitterness about those who made my transition difficult (although I wouldn't say anyone "first pushed [me] down this road" -- I found it on my own) but I don't see this post as an example of that. I was thinking with this post mostly of the non-Orthodox and non-Jewish readers who might be interested in the perspective of someone discovering foods for the first time that they've been having since childhood.

Erica said...

JA: Then why don't you just refer to yourself as "Atheist" instead of "Jewish Atheist" ... a number of [frum] Jewish bloggers are going to be directed to your site simply by the word Jewish in the title ... I'm not even frum and I had to cringe ... at every single item on the list.
I'm with Anonymous on this one. That post made me feel like I needed a dip in the mikvah.
[~shudder~]

Jewish Atheist said...

Sorry it bothered you. I figured the disclaimer would have been enough.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Erica, right now if you do an MSN search for "Jew", my blog appears in the top 10.
Are you defining who a Jew is now?
Would Hitler have spared either me or JA from a death camp because we don't believe in God?
I hate to break it to you, but around 50% of Israeli Jews don't keep Kosher.

e-kvetcher said...

I'm a vegetarian but I believe that bacon is a pork product.

Lisa: No, I can't! I can't eat any of them!
Homer: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: [chuckles] Yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

elf said...

I'm a major foodie and I do often wish that I had more options, but I also think that if I didn't keep kosher and have a budget, I'd never be able to decide what to make. Too many choices! And forget about wine. There are maybe two or three decent kosher wines in my price range. Makes things much simpler.

Flippy said...

Papa John's makes a tasty bacon pizza.

This post has made me crave sushi, so thanks for tonight's dinner suggestion. I usually save the unagi for second-to-last, with tobiko being saved for last.

lakewoodyid said...

Thank you JA, for being Mechazek my beliefs in the Torah's laws of Kashrus. After reading that nauseating list of "10 best ways how to vomit", I'm looking forward to my next Schnitzel sandwich.

Jewish Atheist said...

elf:

Going non-kosher has definitely cost me some money trying new foods. :-)

flippy: I like the tobiko combined with stuff, but not so much alone.

lakewoodyid: It was admittedly kind of difficult to bring myself to eat most of these things for the first time. (Of course that was true for kosher sushi, as well.) Never underestimate the power of social conditioning.

Anonymous said...

These little guys...They taste more-or-less like any other fried thing, but chewier.

...these giant bugs

Salty, chewy, creamy. Stay away from the Manhattan kind, as it's made by sadists who think clams go in a tomato base.


Yuck!

I have to say your descriptions do not make any of the foods listed sound the least bit appetizing, except maybe the wine.

lakewoodyid said...

>lakewoodyid: It was admittedly kind of difficult to bring myself to eat most of these things for the first time. (Of course that was true for kosher sushi, as well.)

I still can't eat sushi.

>Never underestimate the power of social conditioning.

Ah hah. So if you would live in say Lakewood, you'd still be eating Kosher?

Jewish Atheist said...

I still can't eat sushi.

Until I ate sushi, I thought that fish was just bad. The difference between sushi and cooked fish is like the difference between really good chocolate and that carob stuff they give you on tu b'shva

Ah hah. So if you would live in say Lakewood, you'd still be eating Kosher?

I just meant I'd been conditioned not to eat that stuff so it was hard at first, like the first time I drove on shabbos or whatever.

If I'd grown up in lakewood, my transition would probably have been a lot harder. When I was reading Unchosen, I felt very grateful that I'd been raised Modern Orthodox and not Ultra-Orthodox.

Larry Lennhoff said...

I have a kind of there and back again story. I was raised to eat kosher style - I was 22 before I had my first pepperoni pizza. From there it was on to the wonderful world of trief. Then in my mid40s I went kosher again. I miss so many things from that trief period, but what can I do? My father in heaven ...

My personal top 5 miss most:
Suan La Chow Sho from Mary Chungs in Boston - pork dumplings in amazingly spicy broth

Pepperoni, hot cherry pepper, and garlic pizza from
Bertucci's

Filet Mignon from Mortons of Chicago

Peking Ravioli from Mary Chungs - a different form of pork dumpling with a firmer dough and a spicy soy sauce

Various mexican foods (meat and cheese, yum)

lenewyorkais said...

2 biggest joys of tarfus:
1-bossor b'chalav, specifically, the ability to cook fine french meat dishes with butter. no fine chef can work without butter
2-the ability to eat decent food, or at least decent junk food, almost anywhere. try touring france and italy kosher---blahhhh

Zee said...

When I tried my first cheeseburger, I was like, this is it? Nothing special in my opinion. I do love shrimp and clam chowder though. Calamari is too chewy for me.
The best thing about not keeping kosher is being able to eat wherever you are, whatever you're in the mood of.
It's interesting to hear what other people who are starting to eat non kosher find appealing. Maybe I'll try a few items on your list.

Shlomo said...

Fresh shikza is also very good and almost always in season.

Wandering Coyote said...

Pardon my ignorance, but why are seafood/shellfish not kosher? Is it just shellfish, or is it salmon, basa, halibut, etc., too?

As for pork chops, JA, I never thought them anything to write home about. A nice piece of pork tenderloin, properly cooked, can be amazing.

Juggling Mother said...

mmmmm, just thought I'd thow in last nights supper - scampi. Yum!

although I had fish fried in matzo batter earlier in the week - soooo much better than the rubbish traif fried fish Aggie serves up - the stupid English Goyim think that batter should have beer in it & be 2 inches thick!

Anonymous said...

Bacon, shmacon. Shellfish, schmellfish. What does it for me is eating rice on Pesach.

Another anon.

Stacey said...

These are all yummy! You forgot Italian Sausage-on-a-Stick, though.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

My first visit to your blog, via Sadie's blog. Love your list. Remind me to invite you to our annual Bacon Fest. Everyone brings a dish to this potluck and the only rule is, it has to contain bacon. The first time we held this event we were pleasantly surprised at the variety and creativity with which our friends came up with bacon dishes. My partner even rose to the challenge and came up with a bacon dessert. French crepes with baked apple compote, topped with a light vanilla maple glaze then sprinkled with bacon. Mmmmm. :-)

cool yiddishe mama said...

Seeing as how I didn't start keeping kosher until I was 20, I can honestly say that I don't miss traife food (why else did I choose this!)

However, if my yetzer ha-ra were to really take over, I could go for a really excellent Italian meal in our city's Little Italy or Peking Duck at a really good Chinese place. Both of which would be washed down with some high-priced regular wine.

The only thing I can honestly say I miss is good cheese. You can keep this Ha-olam, Migdal, and Miller's dreck!

Anonymous said...

I was very happy to see this post/blog today on the internet. "Happy" or whatever the word is when you discover people who have gone through a similar difficult experience and are still getting over it. Ortho and non-ortho people alike can hardly appreciate what it feels like to go out into the world: the pain and the wonder, the nagging neurosis that plague so many of us otherwise wide-eyed debutantes. I cannot question at all why you made this list of gastronomical discoveries.

As for myself, I left kashrut for a less restrictive diet, though still a socially isolating one, by denying its legitimacy at all and becoming a vegetarian shortly after my first and taste of pepperoni pizza, bought on Pesach and Shabbos at once. I never tried all these exotic things, but I guess- in addition to deciding that Orthodoxy was wrong to permit meat consumption at all- that I can't shake much of the food-related OCD which was drilled into me by BT parents at home and a cast of "educators" at school for so many years.

I commend you on your freedom.

Jewish Atheist said...

Thanks, anonymous. :-)

Anonymous said...

Kosher food is a zionist scam on the Gentiles! Billions have been made off of this scam! Talmudic Jews must be proud of the easy money scam, eh?

Kosher slaughtering is one of the most inhumane things allowed in this modern day world! The powerful Zionist groups have lobbied their puppets in Washington and thus had it put in writing that Kosher Slaughters are exempt from animal rights laws!

Shame, shame on those Zionist Talmudic Jews for they are not only crooked criminals but sickos that torture animals by cutting their thoughts and allowing them to bleed to death so the item can be marked "Kosher". One has to wonder though, how is Cascade dishwasher soap considered Kosher? Do they cut the throat of the guy making the soap at the factory? ha ha!

Congratulations to all of you that have broken away from the evil Talmudic beliefs! You WILL enjoy your new life free of the evil and misery that the Talmud preaches!

Jewish Atheist said...

Anonymous:

Not sure if you're being sarcastic, but on the chance that you aren't, I'll respond to the libel:

Kosher food is a zionist scam on the Gentiles! Billions have been made off of this scam! Talmudic Jews must be proud of the easy money scam, eh?

First, I don't think you know what the word "Zionist" means. Second, "billions" have not been made off of gentiles via kashrut certification. Third, it's not a scam, because it's sincere and wholly voluntary.

Kosher slaughtering is one of the most inhumane things allowed in this modern day world!

Kosher slaughtering is not significantly less humane than non-kosher slaughtering. Often, it's more humane.

Congratulations to all of you that have broken away from the evil Talmudic beliefs! You WILL enjoy your new life free of the evil and misery that the Talmud preaches!

While there is evil in the Talmud, there is no more so there than in other religious and secular texts, and again, often less.

Anonymous said...

Well I was thinking of converting but now... ehhh.. hmmm.

Anonymous said...

...

Anonymous said...

I FEEL VERY VERY SORRY FOR YOU. I DON'T BLAME YOU FOR NOT BEING EDUCATED ABOUT YOUR HERITAGE. TRY LEARNING ABOUT YOUR HERITAGE AND MIGHT FIND OUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO YOUR NESHAMA (SOUL).

MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT AISH.COM TO HELP YOU ALONG.

Anonymous said...

It's really odd to see things like this. I was just googling and found this post. As a person who is converting to Judaism, and has started eating kosher, most of these things you like so much puzzle me— before I started eating kosher I got food poisoning a ton of times, and all from non-kosher sources: pork barbecue, bad cheeseburger, scallops, etc., and I expect you will get food poisoning a few times, too, if you haven't already. Although the stuff tastes good, there are reasons G-d told us not to eat those things. One of the benefits of eating kosher is that you're assured that the restaurant is safe; here in the South, you're not always assured that. Here in Georgia health standards are much higher, but in nearby states like South Carolina and Alabama, eating meat at a non-kosher restaurant is like playing Russian Roulette. However, kosher restaurants down here are scarce, so that's why I've decided to eat dairy/pareve at non-kosher restaurants. The biggest risk at restaurants is eating uncooked/spoiled/rotten/unclean meat.

Nigel said...

http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Article.aspx?id=183049

Bacon Tasting Fish