September 14, 2009

Enjoying Dairy While Mourning Meat

For some people eating fish and salads is a way of life, but for most kosher consumers, eating well means eating meat products. It is perhaps ingrained in Jewish tradition and culture that a meal means “meat and fish,” although the order is reversed since fish may not be eaten immediately after meat. These are the Nine Days when for observant Jews there is little choice but to eat dairy and pareve. It is part of the mourning period for the destruction of the First and Second Temple. I have to admit that I too am “a meat and potatoes” person but the non-meat period is always a refreshing experience. I discover dishes that I rarely touch during the rest of the year. I am quite surprised that I can I fill up on dairy and pareve dishes. Many of my friends also rave about the fish, pastas and cheese dishes, but for whatever reason rush back to meat as soon as they can.

There is also the issue of eating healthier, which the Nine Days menu seems to offer. I sometimes think that if we truly enjoy (perhaps the wrong word during a period of mourning) the dairy and pareve menu, why not make one or two nights a week a non-meat event. Several years ago, I had occasion to have lunch with a non-religious Jew at a meat restaurant with a Nine Days Menu. While I feasted on salmon, roast potatoes and vegetables, my colleague had lamb chomps, baked potato, and cole slaw. After finishing the meal, my colleague remarked: “I am quite impressed that you can go to a steakhouse and have fish.” My answer: “Well, it’s only for the Nine Days.”