Our friend Noah Budin – a gifted musician and Jewish educator – recently stopped by and, noticing the labels on everything from cabinets to cookware (“milk”, “meat”, “pareve”) asked us how the changeover was going.
Pandora answered that it was good, but we had to constantly think about everything we ate. He smiled and said “Isn’t that the point?”)
He was right of course, but sometimes you have to hear things spoken back to you for them to make sense. But it got me thinking about the parts of kashrut that I found challenging, and if there wasn’t an instruction manual that could help. Sort of a “Kashrut for Dummies” handbook.
(and I *did* check – nobody has a book by that name, so if anyone wants to co-write one with me I’m definitely open to the idea).
On the other hand, based on my experiences over the (short) time I’ve been keeping kosher, if you are a “dummy” perhaps you should skip kashrut and think about one of the other 613 mitzvot. Something simple and easy to accomplish, like avoiding Lashon Hora.
I have learned, however, that there are techniques you can use to help make it day-to-day in your kosher kitchen. Some are common sense things – like labeling cabinets so you remember what goes where; or tagging utensils with marker or nail polish so you know the meat forks from the milk spoons; and avoiding teflon until you get the hang of things.
Then there’s color coding: the international kashrut code apparently requires meat items to be red, milk items to be blue, and pareve items to be (what else?) green. I say this not because I’ve ever read (or even found) the international kashrut code, but because that’s how all the cute little sticky tags come.
And then there are the utensils (pictured below), which take “color coding” and “tagging” to a whole new level. Pandora and my daughter found them in the grocery store the other day. I can only assume they were always there, just waiting for us to show up.
Isn’t that one of those truisms? “When the student is ready, the utensils appear”
These products were not limited to spatulas. A quick look at the manufacturer’s website shows items that range from the logical (“coin” tags to put on various items) to the whimsical (spoon rest with a rooster motif) and into the realm of “do we really need that?” (kosher sink strainers).
Over 20 items appear in the “Kosher Confusion Enders” section alone, with more items found in sections for bakeware, utensils and even commercial kitchen products.
While I have to scratch my head at the need for some of these items, it’s also a comfort to know that I’m in good company finding this transition to be more than a simple spring cleaning.
Any time I prepare food there is a whole new layer of thinking that goes with it. And as our friend said, isn’t that the point?