Kosher Style Food – Authentic Or Not?

Kosher Style Food

Kosher Style Food
Jewish Restaurant in Kazimierz, Kraków, Poland

You know the difference between Kosher food and Kosher Style food? Some people think that Kosher food means generic food of any culture which is prepared with Kosher ingredients according to Jewish Law. Kosher Style food then would mean ethnic Jewish Kosher food like kugel, gefilte fish, cholent, kishke and it’s North African / Asian equivalents.

Absolutely wrong! Kosher Style food is NOT Kosher. Here are a few examples:

Kazimierz, Krakow

In February 2014 I visited the Kazimierz District of Krakow, Poland. For those not yet familiar, Kazimierz was the seat of the Jewish community in Kraków from the 13th century till the 2nd World War.

Among the main landmarks of the area left today are the Old Synagogue, the Remuh Synagogue, the Izaak Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. Each with its history and traditions.

Today there isn’t much of a Jewish community but the tourist spots try to cater to Jews. For example, check the restaurant in the photo at the top of the post. At first glance its a “Jewish” labeled establishment with a menu in English, Polish and even Hebrew.

Kosher Style FoodTake a closer look at the menu: “Jewish Carp”. What’s Jewish about a carp?

Cheese cake along with roast duck? Isn’t that meat & milk?

The only thing labeled “Kosher” is the wine (though you can’t be sure about it unless you check out the bottles personally).

In short this is a classic “Kosher Style” restaurant. I admire the Polish owners for their initiative to attract the tourists, but this place is absolutely NOT Kosher. It’s not under any Rabbinical supervision and the cooking process and ingredients aren’t according to Halacha.

All this I learned from our Polish non-Jewish guide who incredibly enough was irritated about the “lack of authenticity” of this restaurant. Even for her as a non-Jew she wanted to see something REALLY Jewish, not pretend Jewish.

Kenny & Ziggy’s

I read a lengthy interview in The Times of Israel online newspaper titled “Pastrami on wry with the Texan macher keeping deli culture alive“. The article is about “a new documentary delving into the Jewish delicatessen experience features Houston ‘purist’ Ziggy Gruber”. It goes into detail about Jewish delicatessens in general and about Gruber’s deli in Houston, Texas called Kenny & Ziggy’s. Throughout the interview Mr. Gruber talks about tradition, synagogues, Rabbis & cantors and sprinkles his talk with dozens of Yiddish words. I was sure his deli was Glatt Kosher at the very least.

But lo and behold somewhere in the middle he gets to the topic of Kashrut and says:

Where do you draw the line in kosher-style deli?

In our store we do serve some pork products. That we do. There’s shrimp in there. When I say pork products, we only carry, like, bacon. But for people that don’t want that, I have pastrami bacon that I serve in the store as well. Even though we’re a non-kosher store, I carry some kosher meat — even though we don’t change the slicers or the knives.

Incredible! A totally Jewish sounding gastronomical experience which it absolutely NON-Kosher “Treif Chazer” (non-Kosher Pig)! It’s mind-boggling to my little brain why a person would go to such lengths to create an extremely successful Jewish Style restaurant and not cater at all to those who actually keep the Jewish Tradition…

Like my non-Jewish Polish guide told me, I too believe in authentic Jewish experiences, not pretend ones.

4 thoughts on “Kosher Style Food – Authentic Or Not?

  1. I respect your opinion. At the same time if it was a vegetarian restaurant not run according to Halacha, it wouldn’t disturb me that much, but in my humble opinion, a jewish and pork don’t fit together.
    Thanks for your interest. As a new blogger I appreciate it ☺

  2. In case of establishments run by a Jew, following all the laws might be very uncomfortable, because that may feel as admitting guilt about times that he did or does not comply.

    However, Jewish Law is not a matter of all or nothing. Every instance of a Jew following Jewish Law counts. And kashrut is such a nice way to connect to the Jewish People and Tradition.

  3. As someone who changed from not following kashrut laws to someone who does, I think that I understand why some establishments do not go all the way.

    If they are run by a Gentile, he might not see the relevance of the details. Or, he may feel that he is incapable to adhere to them. The rabbis agree on the latter case – this is not something that a Gentile should need to take care of. But he should hire a kashrut obeying Jew to assist him.

    1. Hi MM,
      I would agree with you concerning the cafe in Krakow. But I have great difficulty with a proudly Jewish establishment in USA which promotes a Jewish idea and serves Treif.

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