Monday, June 27, 2011

AhOY VEY!

I'm not certain, but if I had to guess, I'd say about 90% of all of our household possessions fall into one of two categories: books or dishes. Since I've already covered our book situation, this post will focus on the exciting topic of dishes.

In addition to the duplicates you’d expect to find when two adults move in together, since we also keep kosher, we had 2 sets of most all kitchen items, and a ton of dishes. Not including serving dishes, we had a set of porcelain Japanese dishes for parve meals, a set of 4 glass plates for restaurant leftovers, a large set of brown dishes for meat, as well as an identical set of blue dishes for dairy, plus formal china for holidays. We had a lot of dishes.

If you're unfamiliar with keeping kosher, here are the basics: meat and dairy products are not eaten together, and pork and shellfish are never consumed. Keeping meat and dairy separate comes from Exodus (23:19 and 34:26) and Deuteronomy (14:21), which repeatedly state “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (“kid” as in baby goat, not as in young human). For those who keep kosher, these passages are followed by preparing and eating meat and dairy separately. Avoiding shellfish and other non-kosher seafood comes from Leviticus (11:9-11:12) and Deuteronomy (14:9). Leviticus (11:1-11:43) also details more specifically which animals are kosher and which are not to be eaten (with the exception of pork, they aren't animals most of us eat with any regularity--or ever). I'm sure there are other passages detailing dietary laws, but these are the ones with which I am most familiar.

Keeping kosher can be as complex or simple as a person wants it to be. For us, we maintain a fairly kosher kitchen; however, in preparation for our future life on a boat, we’ve had to make some changes to our current kosher practices.

Right now, we cook only kosher meat at home. Sadly, this has resulted in us almost never eating meat because the only place to buy kosher meat is across town and we are too lazy to drive all the way over there. And, when we do have the energy to drive across town, we are pretty much limited to chicken, turkey, and generally unfavorable cuts of beef. Also, we don’t make meals containing both meat and dairy, and we have separate dishes for both meat and dairy.

What we do outside of our house is another story. For us, keeping kosher is an easy and enjoyable way to make Judaism part of our everyday lives, but outside of our home, it becomes more of a hassle and inconvenience. To avoid this, Eric and I routinely exploit every possible loophole within the kosher laws that we can find. For example, we eat chicken with cheese when we go out because chickens don't make milk, and therefore the law shouldn't really apply. Few rabbis would approve, but it works for us. Some foods, like pork, we never knowingly eat, even when we dine out because they are beyond any loophole we can justify to ourselves.

For some, keeping kosher may seem like a self-imposed burden, but we like it because for at least 3 times a day, we get to feel very Jewish. On a boat, we knew there was no way to keep kosher in the same way we had been (it simply requires too much stuff). To consolidate our dishes, we got one set of glass dishes. You see, in Jewish law (non-Orthodox), glass is considered to be non-absorbent and, as such, may be used interchangeably with meat and dairy. Unlike our old sets, our new dishes stack incredibly well. Here is a photo of one of our old sets of dishes next to our new set (both should have 8 settings, although the old set is short a few due to casualties over the years):


Sadly, there was yet another causality while taking photographs for this post:


On the positive side, since our new set, in addition to being glass, is also chip and shatter resistant, accidents, like the one above, should be a rare occurrence in the future.

Unfortunately, we did have to make some concessions when it came to how we prepare our food. For practical reasons, we now have only one set of pots and pans and use them to prepare both meat and dairy meals. We also got rid of our set of dairy utensils and now use only one set for both meat and dairy meals. Thus, although we will eat meat and dairy separately, we will be cooking and eating them with the same stuff (washed in between, of course). We are still going to eat only kosher meat on the boat, but thankfully, since Miami has a large Jewish population, there will be a lot of convenient places to buy kosher meat and other Jewish foods.

We are still adjusting to our new “rules,” but with the alterations we’ve made, we will be able to maintain a kosher lifestyle while living on a boat.

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