Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I have a Kosher Kitchen?! Me?!

We kashered our kitchen this weekend. This is a BIG DEAL. You see, I have never had a kosher kitchen. I was raised in the Reform movement (including attending URJ camp and holding leadership roles in a NFTY youth group). The Reform stance on kashrut is that we have the power to make individual choices (based on knowledge and learning) in matters of ritual law. There's a wide range of practice among Reform Jews, but the majority of the families I grew up with were "Kosher Style" at home.  No pork (but pepperoni on pizza might make an appearance).  No shellfish and no blatant mixing of milk and meat. Out of the house, anything goes. When I was 6 or 7 Mom bought bacon, when Dad was on a business trip. It was a secret and therefore, thrilling. As we got older, I recall that our Kashrut observance relaxed. I remember having cheese on my chili and cheeseburgers in the summer.  My parents have returned to Kosher Style observance in the last couple of years.

In my twenties, kashrut was not even on my radar. I was recovering from the havoc that undiagnosed celiac disease wrought on my body. Finding gluten-free food was so much harder a decade ago! It's trendy now, which is great because there are so many more GF products on the market. I disgress. The point is, if I was thinking about food, it was about if it had gluten in it, not if it had a hechsher.

So why a kosher kitchen? Why now?

I came to this decision over the summer, when hosting friends and family in our home. My husband brought a set of kosher milk dishes and utensils into the relationship which I'd haul out when prepping for certain guests. I'd always find I was missing some key kitchen tool while prepping these meals and I found this very annoying. I'd end up running to the store in the middle of preparing a meal to buy a strainer, whisk or measuring spoon. I didn't resent ensuring the meal I served was kosher, but it drove me crazy having to source kitchenware at the last minute.

Thus, the first reason to make the switch was for community. We want all of our Jewish friends and family to be comfortable eating in our home. I also appreciate that keeping a kosher home links me to our communal history and traditions. I knew that the initial switch would be labour intensive and it would be expensive to replace our dishes and tools, but once we were done, cooking for friends would be so much easier.

Reason number two is that it once our kitchen was kashered, it wouldn't require much effort for me to maintain a kosher kitchen on a day to day basis. DH says this isn't really a reason. But since I'm not keeping kosher for spiritual reasons or because it's halachically required, it needed to not be particularly onerous for me to make the switch. Most people who don't keep kosher consider it a complicated endeavor.  So why doesn't it require effort, you might ask? 
  1. DH is a vegetarian so I rarely have meat in the house. I cooked a ton when I was pregnant due to iron cravings, but I can't remember any other time I've make a meal dish since we began living together. Our kitchen is now strictly milk/pareve.
  2. There are good gluten-free brands with hechshers, easily available in downtown Toronto, which is important as a celiac.
  3. I try to reduce the amount of processed foods we eat and fresh foods don't need certification.
Finally, my third (and most important) reason is that it makes my husband very happy. I came to this decision on my own. I didn't actually talk it out with him, which is unusual because talking things through is how I work out how I feel about them. But I didn't want to raise his hopes or get him excited unless I was sure.  

I'm surprised by how excited I am to have taken this step. I'm curious to see if it will have a spiritual impact for me. Time will tell.

The actual process of kashering the kitchen had some very fun upsides and some sad downsides. I think I'll make that another post. Stay tuned.


1 comment:

  1. Mazal tov! I want to hear all about the process when you're ready to blog it!