Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Kosher Kitchen: the ways in which I surprise myself with my traditionalism

So when I lived in [unnamed big city with large Jewish population], I always kept a kosher kitchen. I ate in non-kosher restaurants, it's true, but I felt compelled to keep kosher at home nonetheless.

This seemed like a very reasonable decision to me. After all, many of my friends and most of my family lived nearby and kept kosher, and I wanted them to be able to eat at my apartment.

Also, in said area, kosher food -- both in the supermarket and take-out -- was really easy to come by.

Well, in [small city with very small observant Jewish population], kosher food is not quite as easy to find. There's *some* kosher meat (frozen) and other frozen kosher products in the supermarket, and there's a(n expensive) kosher store about half an hour away, but that's about it.

And since I'm still looking for a job here (in this economy!), I'm not exactly "rollin' in the dough" at the moment. So, as a trial, while I've been living in a sublet (for a month), without my dishes (which are currently at my parents' house and which I plan on bringing out here when I move into my permanent apartment next month), I've stopped keeping a kosher kitchen. I have a few cheap cooking implements that I got at Target, and that's what I've been using for the meanwhile.

In a lot of ways, this has been fun. All those products on the shelves that were off limits just for years? Into my refrigerator or oven they go! It's definitely also a lot cheaper.

As the prospect of moving into the more permanent apartment approaches, I found myself considering whether or not it was necessary for me to even have a kosher kitchen at all. I mean, the people I've met here don't know me for very long, so it wouldn't be awkward to tell kosher-keeping folk that I have a non-kosher kitchen. Nor do I have a whole lot of friends out here who won't eat out non-kosher. And I certainly don't have to worry about family coming over all that often. (If they did, I could theoretically kasher my kitchen for that time period.)

But for some reason, the answer I keep coming back with is that, yes, I must have a kosher kitchen. That this was a fun few weeks, but when it comes down to it, I can't see myself really living in any permanent way, in a non-kosher home.

I don't really know why this is the case. It seems silly (and expensive) in a lot of ways. But somehow, inexplicably, the kosher kitchen, more than any other staple of Jewish life, seems like a connection to where I come from that I can't sever.

Perhaps, in some ways, I'm more traditional than I thought.