"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


The Perfect Substitute for Treif Spins on Jewish Cuisine

In the last few days, the Jewish blogosphere has been buzzing about purposeful treif variations of Jewish cuisine.

On Friday, The Jew & The Carrot featured a post that began, "Recently Tablet Magazine ran an article titled 'High on the Hog,' where it looked at the phenomenon of cuisine which purposely mixes not just meat and milk, but treif (forbidden foods) with foods considered to be part of the Jewish culinary spectrum (matzo balls, bagels, etc). Several of the speakers talk about cuisine a flexible medium, and a reflection of the cosmopolitan world we live in. They talk about shattering barriers, challenging assumptions."

Yesterday, Frum Satire's Heshy Fried noted that he and Punk Torah's Patrick Aleph had gotten into a discussion about cheeseburgers on matzoh during Passover. One view espoused was that they could be a positive sign of embracing Judaism and kashrut in some regard as opposed to not at all, even though "[o]bviously halacha is not being taken into account."

I immediately thought of a vegan lunch I made for a friend last weekend. I served a "meat" and "cheese" lasagna with a side of charoset. My kosher-keeping friend noted that he had never had lasagna with real meat and cheese, so this dish had some novelty to it. The charoset helped add the touch I was looking for as a culinary artist, a tension between normative Jewish cuisine and spit-in-the-face rebellion.

Of course, my "rebellion" was conceptual and humorous only. Unlike the kosher cheeseburger on matzoh, my vegan meal did not violate halacha. I would recommend that other Jews looking to satisfy their desires for edginess and rebellion also make vegan versions of their intended treif concoctions. Some critics would say that even the idea of having a trayf dish is undesirable, but in my mind, putting forth the concept while still adhering to the law is the best way to go.


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