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Old 02-08-2018, 01:16 PM   #1
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Keeping Kosher or Halal

I didn’t see this topic in the “special diets” forums. I hope this is the right place to post it!

I am Jewish by birth, and I identify as Jewish although I haven’t set foot in shul since I was thirteen (my bar-Mitzvah). My parents were both raised in kosher households; two iceboxes, two sets of dishes (my dad’s mother kept three sets of dishes, because Grandpa liked rare, bloody steaks. Obviously treyf.) I don’t keep kosher at all, but being raised Jewish has given me an aversion to pork! I do prepare it occasionally, and I love breakfast sausages. While I don’t keep kosher, it interests me because 1) it’s cooking! And 2) the kosher tradition is part of my cultural roots. I mentioned halal in the title, but I don’t know anything about it!

My question is this, and it’s probably a question for a rabbi, not a chef. The restriction for mixing milk and dairy comes from one commandment in Leviticus: You shall not cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk. That’s a paraphrase, I’m sure; I’m no Talmudic scholar. But I do know that all the restrictions of mixing meat and dairy come from that one commandment. All the restrictions are what Jewish scholars call “a fence around the Torah.” If you can’t mix any meat with any dairy product, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that you’ll be boiling a kid in it’s mother’s milk. (There are other reasons behind the meat\dairy restrictions, more logical and health-based, but even those reasons have become obsolete with modern preserving, pasteurizing and preserving techniques, and non-wood kitchen appliances and plates. But that came after the fact.)

But one is not allowed to cook chicken in a cream sauce, which is ridiculous, because chickens lay eggs and don’t lactate. There’s no way to cook a chick in its mother’s milk; it’s mother doesn’t have any!

So, are there any Talmudic or Torah scholars out there who are also cooks? Can you tell me [I]why[\I] chicken in a cream sauce is treyf, if there’s no such thing as “chicken milk?”


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Old 02-08-2018, 02:15 PM   #2
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I am not an expert but... this is an interesting read: Chicken and milk | Ask the Rabbi - Yeshiva.org.il
As I understand this the basic reasons are because at one point the decision was made to not allow mixing fowl and milk to avoid confusion - a rabbinic prohibition.

To take this issue one step further there is this conundrum as well:
It's forbidden to cook a mammal in it's mothers milk (cruel, etc) but it's OK to cook chicken with eggs. Why?

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Old 02-08-2018, 03:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JustJoel View Post
So, are there any Talmudic or Torah scholars out there who are also cooks? Can you tell me [I]why[\I] chicken in a cream sauce is treyf, if there’s no such thing as “chicken milk?”
They're "out there," Joel, but they're not here. AFAIK, we have one member - Charlie - who keeps kosher but he's not a Talmudic scholar.
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Old 02-08-2018, 04:54 PM   #4
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Joel, I don't believe in gods, but I have read the Bible, cover-to-cover. As you said, many dietary restrictions came from practical considerations at the time they were adopted. Most really have little practical justifications with modern food processing and preserving capabilities.

Having said that, I think it is great that you want to cook things from your roots.

Here in Dallas, there are stores that cater to kosher and halal ingredients. I'd bet there are such stores in Vegas (pardon the pun). They would probably be a wealth of knowledge on the subject of kosher/halal cooking.

I hope you enjoy your journey cooking from your Jewish ancestry.

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Old 02-08-2018, 09:03 PM   #5
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Dear Joel,
I used the Molly Goldberg cookbook to cook all my Jewish recipes. I was raised in a Jewish but not kosher household.
I have described some of the dishes my grandmother used to make to Kayelle, and she could not believe I survived that diet. In retrospect, I feel the same way.
An example would be kishka, or stuffed derma. It is a mixture of onion, flour, and chicken fat stuffed into a cow's intestine and boiled then baked.
My grandmother made them with the neck skin of chicken instead of cow's intestines.
I once prepared kasha for Kayelle, which is buckwheat groats. After politely tasting some, she remarked, "This must be very healthy".
If you want to serve a tasty Jewish treat, take toast rounds and simply smear schmaltz on them.
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