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The Food: Kosher Italian Food

The Roman Jews... Kosher Italian food?  Of course.  The Jews, like the Italians are great chameleons.  They blend in wherever they are, using the ingredients on hand to create their own form of cuisine.  In the late 1500s, under opression from the rise of Christianity, the Jews were forced into the ghettos of Rome.  The whole idea of Kosher food is actually one tradition that I am glad is still alive and well, especially in this day and age where every day there is a different news report about how something is no good for you (red meat is no good for the heart; chicken may have salmonella; vegetables may have high levels of pesticides; fish may contain mercury; and now even milk does NOT do a body good??).  In any case, many do not understand the concepts of Kosher food.  Yes, some of it does have to do with ritualistic preparation of the food, but it is the food itself.  In North Jersey, there is a large Hebrew community in West Orange which has a Glatt Kosher Chinese restaurant, yes Chinese, I have been in there and it is actually supervised by an orthodox Hebrew.  "Glatt" means something even more pure than kosher.  With over 50 million tainted meat related illnesses, and over 5,000 deaths attributed to salmonella (and related cases) in the USA alone, you might want to take note: 

Basic Rules of Kosher Food:
Milk is never served with meat dishes because you do not mix dairy products with meat.
There are separate pots for cooking dairy and  meat
Animals are killed as painlessly and humanely as possible

The animal is sure to be free of bacteria, disease, etc.
The meat from those ritualisticaly slaughtered animals are cleaned with great scrutiny, it must be hung and washed free of any blood  and/or veins less than 72 hours after the animal is killed.

After you take a look at the list of rules above, its seems like such good common sense, especially in an age of mad cow disease, anthrax, increased steroid-injected consumer meats, etc. etc.  It makes someone like myself (who is not a big meat eater) to want to do all my shopping at a Kosher butcher.  But here is where it gets more difficult, for myself anyway: 

Kosher Food Excludes:
Shellfish: Because they are bottom feeders and unclean.
Fish without Scales or Fins: Again, because they are considered bottom feeders and unclean.
Pork: Because pigs hoofs are split and since they roll around in the mud and their own filth, again, unclean.

The obvious problems with the exclusions of these food, as it relates to Italian cooking, is that the Italians eat anything and everything, wasting nothing, ever.  I am not sure I am in agreement with either side, quite frankly.  While I love the idea of eating only Kosher meat, I also love my shellfish more than anything.  And while I love all aspects of Italian cooking and its culinary delights, I am not a big fan of veal (I actually never eat it) nor do I eat liver, tripe (intestines), etc.  It is all a personal choice, but again, the whole Kosher tradition is a trend I would love to see become more mainstream.

Where to Find Kosher Products: Usually there are special sections of supermarkets setup for specifically kosher foods, especially around the Hebrew holidays where you can find Kosher candy, gum, etc.
Snapple: Believe it or not, yes Snapple, look for the letter "K" in a circle for all supermarket Kosher foods.  Another myth is that a "K" in a circle or triangle is a pagan, satanic and/or KKK symbol, but those are all false, it simply means Kosher.
Coca-Cola: Again, Kosher.

Bartenura: Kosher Wine & Liquers


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