Friday, March 1, 2013

Cheeseburger in Paradise

It’s funny what you carry with you from childhood.  For some reason I was thinking about 6th grade reading class the other day.  It was the very first day and many of us had not met before since it was our first day in middle school.  We all had to introduce ourselves and tell the class something about ourselves.  I have no idea what I said about myself, but that is probably because I was obsessing about what a girl said who went before me.  She said, “Hello, my name is Jennifer and I’ve never eaten a cheeseburger.”

I went on to know this girl for seven more years in middle and high school.  I actually ran into her a few times at Penn State where we both went to college.  But I never asked her why she said what she said in Mr. Shull’s reading class.  I am sure I forgot about it by the day after the occurrence, but during the rest of the class I wondered what she had against a slice of American on top of a burger, and why that would be of interest to a group of thirty twelve year olds.  Having known her for some time, I knew that she was neither lactose intolerant nor a vegetarian.

It never clicked with me until I was involved in designing the food service facilities for the Jewish Home of Rochester.  We had design meetings with the Rabbi to get his blessing (literally) on the food service plans.  I didn’t know very much about the Kosher lifestyle, but I got a crash course in it, learning that utensils and equipment can not be cross-contaminated between preparing, serving or eating dairy products and meat products.  I did a little internet reading to find that there are some verses in the Deuteronomy and Leviticus regarding the preparation of these kinds of foods as compared to Pareve, or neutral, foods.  It is also interpreted from these verses that one should not eat an animal with cloven hooves or sea creatures without scales.  It gets much more complicated from there, and I don’t claim to understand it, but it was quite enlightening to me at the time.

And then, twenty-one years later, a light bulb went off in my head connected to this distant memory.  Call it a revelation.  I am guessing that Jimmy Buffet is not Kosher…I knew it.

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