Where’s the Jewish Food?

You’ve heard “Where’s the beef?”  (Not from me, of course.)  Well, making a stir in the last week or so is a BBC article http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170607-why-isnt-there-more-jewish-food-in-israel asking why there isn’t more “Jewish” food is in Israel.

Hmm….  what’s wrong with that question? Israel is FULL of “Jewish” food, and plenty of vegetarian food, from countries all over the world.

Perhaps the question should have been, “Where’s the Eastern European, Ashkenazi food?”

For those of you who are not “familiar,” following is an explanation of “Ashkenazi,” lifted from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Ashkenazi, plural Ashkenazim, from Hebrew Ashkenaz (“Germany”), member of the Jews who lived in the Rhineland valley and in neighbouring France before their migration eastward to Slavic lands (e.g., Poland, Lithuania, Russia) after the Crusades (11th–13th century) and their descendants. After the 17th-century persecutions in eastern Europe, large numbers of these Jews resettled in western Europe, where they assimilated, as they had done in eastern Europe, with other Jewish communities. In time, all Jews who had adopted the “German rite” synagogue ritual were referred to as Ashkenazim to distinguish them from Sephardic (Spanish rite) Jews. Ashkenazim differ from Sephardim in their pronunciation of Hebrew, in cultural traditions, in synagogue cantillation (chanting), in their widespread use of Yiddish (until the 20th century), and especially in synagogue liturgy.

Today Ashkenazim constitute more than 80 percent of all the Jews in the world, vastly outnumbering Sephardic Jews. In the early 21st century, Ashkenazic Jews numbered about 11 million. In Israel the numbers of Ashkenazim and Sephardim are roughly equal, and the chief rabbinate has both an Ashkenazic and a Sephardic chief rabbi on equal footing. All Reform and Conservative Jewish congregations belong to the Ashkenazic tradition.

So, yes, Ashkenazi food is basically Eastern European food, without certain animals like pork and shellfish, which we don’t eat anyway.

Obviously, the authors of the BBC article had their blinders on when they were looking for “Jewish” food, because Israel is overflowing with “Jewish” food.  Not just the matzoh ball soup and potato latkes, but food that was brought in from countries other than the Eastern European countries.

Immigrants from Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, India, all over Asia, Morocco, Mexico, South America, Vietnam. and others, have all been integrated into the “Jewish” food scene.

Yes, even Vietnam. Did you know that Israel was the only country to pluck a boat full of Vietnamese refugees out of the ocean at the end of the war?  If you haven’t heard the phrase “Vietnamese Boat people” its easy enough to look up.  (Here, I’ll make it easy. http://www.aish.com/jw/i/Vietnamese_Boat_People_in_the_Promised_Land.html ) But the Israeli cargo ship, Yuvali, was the only ship to pick up desperate refugees escaping the Communists when the war ended and after being refused by one country after another (sound familiar? Read up on refugees fleeing Eastern Europe) they were brought to Israel, as were hundreds of other Vietnamese afterwards.  So, surprisingly most “Chinese” food in Israel is actually Vietnam-based!

“Jewish” food is not just matzoh ball soup, latkes, falafel, and hummus.  Its Indian curry, Ethiopian injera and vegetarian platters, Yemenite malawach and jachnun, “Chinese” food, “Japanese” food, “Thai” food, all of which include multiple vegetarian delights, and too many more to list here.

So, for those looking for “Jewish” food, branch out.  “Jewish” food is much more than just Eastern European Ashkenazi food.

Explore.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Go #veg.  Ta’im!  (Delicious!)


Don’t Listen to Your Parents!

Oops!  They said it again. “Work in what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.”  They said it on a food show, no less.  (Well, what do you think I’d be watching?  Ok, I do watch other things, too.  But lots of food shows!)

Don’t Listen to Your Parents.  You don’t have to be a teacher.  You don’t have to be an accountant.  You don’t have to be a doctor or a lawyer, unless you want to be a doctor or a lawyer.  And think of the loans you won’t have to pay back!

There’s been so much written about Lin-Manuel Miranda lately.  (The creator and star of “Hamilton,” on Broadway, if his name doesn’t strike a chord.)  About how he was such a creative kid, was in all of the school plays, always wanted to CREATE……  and he did.

Sounds like me.  Started doing plays as a child, out of my garage in Brooklyn.  Yes, the garage door was the “curtain.”  Was an artsy-fartsy kid in school, so creative, always in the art rooms, or the band rooms, was in every school play, the second female lead in the senior play, in symphony band, marching band, jazz band, orchestra, chorus, and then went to college to become a teacher, because that’s what my parents wanted.

I still played a little music on occasion.  I still did some children’s theatre and a some cabaret shows later on, but real life kicked in.  There were no art teacher positions around, and at that point I couldn’t have supported myself in theatre, so I went off and did other things in order to pay the bills.  But, I wanted to be creative.  I wanted to be in the arts.  I wanted to “perform.”

You say, “But, you’re working on putting an amazing TV show together!”  Yup, that’s my dream.  I plan to get the sponsors together, and get the show produced and on the air.  But, sometimes real life interferes, and there are all those bills to pay.  Argh!

So, right here at the beginning of the year I am going to be a copycat and say, “Work in what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.”  Yup, I said it again!  So, follow your heart.  Go forward, and do what you love!


In a Land Far, Far Away…

In a land far, far, away….  the Land of Military Bases, Defense Contractors, Seal Team Six, International Corporations, and more backyard barbecues than you can shake a stick at, something amazing is happening.

The “Land” is called “Hampton Roads” and its a place where you’d never expect a foodie revolution to be taking place….  but it is.  You’d expect to find this “revolution” in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, but no surprise to someone in-the-know, its a “revolution” no more.  Its country-wide and world-wide, and is happening in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

What is this “revolution”? Vegetarian/vegan pop-up dinners!  Yes, even in the Land of Military Bases, Defense Contractors, and megawatt backyard barbecues, going “veg” is huge.

Every local restaurant in Hampton Roads has vegetarian options on their menus (they wouldn’t have them if people weren’t asking for them), and now, multiple vegetarian/vegan Pop-Up dinners are happening in preparation for opening the first fully vegetarian/vegan restaurant!

ANOTHER pop-up dinner is coming up, and even in such an out of the way place, previous dinners were sold-out (to vegetarians, vegans, health professionals, and just plain “foodies”), and no doubt this one will be, too.

Information about the chefs running the events, below.  Take a look!


No matter where you live, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, small towns or large cities, whether for moral, ethical, or health reasons, the desire to “go veg” is growing by leaps and bounds…. even in the Land of megawatt backyard barbecues!

Its country-wide!  Its world-wide!

Go veg!


Follow Your Dreams, Redux

Last week I was surrounded by my dream… for about an hour.  Food Network was shooting an episode of “Dinner:Impossible” nearby, and I was invited to visit the set.

Totally coincidentally, I was speaking to someone involved with the show the week before, and just a few days later was an announcement in the paper that they would be in the area!  Not one to let such a great opportunity pass me by, I got back in touch with my contact(s) and they invited me over!

I spent a few minutes chatting, face-to-face, with my contact(s) who I had only spoken to on the phone previously, and met Chef Robert Irvine, as well.  Sweet guy!

Of course, they were on a deadline, so I watched from the sidelines for a while longer, enjoying every minute.  The restaurant setting, the cameras, audio, designers and volunteers working to remake the place, the hustle and bustle, and seeing the progress even in the short amount of time that I was there.

Looking forward to seeing the episode and how it all turned out.  And, oh, perchance to dream…..  and make it come true….   :)



Follow Your Dreams

The other night I watched Kennedy Center Honors and they honored such wonderful people. George Lucas, Seji Ozawa, Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson…..

And then they honored Carole King. Aretha Franklin came on stage, astounding everyone, playing the piano and singing, “You Make me Feel Like Natural Woman.” The audience was singing and crying. Carole King was singing and crying. The President, and First Lady, were singing…… and crying.

Everyone was on their feet. And I was crying.

And then, the show was ending. James Taylor was singing, then, Aretha again, Carole again, from the balcony, and the Obamas, and the audience…. were all singing, “I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet.”

And I was still crying.

At the end of 2015, and at the onset of a new year……. follow your dreams……

“Do, or do not. There is no try.” So, you must do….

Happy 2016. And….. Do!


‘Tis the Season…..

“Tis the season to be jolly, etc., etc., but it is also the season of turkey, ham, roast beef, veal (baby cows!), chicken, fish, and other foods.

It really makes me sad to think of how many millions of innocent animals have already been killed in the name of THANKSGIVING, and how many millions more will be killed in the name of the upcoming holidays, which all have joyous premises.

How can you be joyous over a slaughtered animal…..  at any time of the year?

Just last week in the supermarket it was SO sad to see the contents of so many people’s carts.  I really wanted to cry.  I did get into conversations with a few people and gave them my “business card” that lists my contact information and the link to my website.  :)

But, still……

If you haven’t seen these articles, which I posted recently on Twitter and Facebook, please take a read-through now.  I know I’m preaching to the choir, but if you pass the articles on to others, maybe a few will consider their choices over the holidays and beyond, and truly have a reason to be joyous.

They are written by Craig Shapiro, an amazing journalist and writer, who is now working for PETA.

Read on!

“A Vegan Holiday Gives Everyone Reason to be Thankful.”

“Hear That Knocking? Its Your Conscience.”