Food And Identity


Your recent article, “The Gentrification Of The Gefilte” (April 13), would have been more appropriately titled “The Gentilification.” For Jews, “you are what you eat,” is at the core of their identity.

Pick up a Ukrainian cookbook, and you will find many of our own Jewish holiday staples such as pirogi, holobtzi, etc. A rabbi once asked why we have kosher Mexican, Italian and Chinese restaurants, yet don’t find those people looking to experience kosher cuisine? Well, why would they want to eat what they're accustomed to? 

Jews have for millennia modified the foods of their host countries to comply with kashrut, and to facilitate meals during the Sabbath and its attendant restriction on cooking. This is truly the creative genius that elevated local peasant food to spiritual delicacies.

Who hasn’t met someone far removed from Judaism and heard them say, “my grandmother made awesome gefilte fish.” Certainly Bubbe Kutsher would agree, for it was those very guests and their generation who transformed their family from farmers to successful hoteliers. Zach Kutsher says kosher is “antithetical to creativity.” He insulted his forebears, and anyone else that is not trying to cook, as your writer put it, “goyische.”