Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


The vast melting kugel

Filed under : Food,Judaism
On April 4, 2010
At 1:15 am
Comments : 11

Last night, partially inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (in which he shows schoolchildren, in disgusting fashion, how chicken nuggets are made) and partially by my missing my regular meals, I made my own chicken nuggets. Now, unlike the elementary school kids, I don’t actually eat chicken nuggets very often. But I confess to snarfing down lots of Chik’n nuggets, that is, the Morningstar brand of fake chicken. That’s because, a. for Koshery reasons, it’s aggravating to make meat dishes at home, and b. I’m actually sort of partial to Morningstar’s fake meats. As to why I eat such a convenience food, I can’t really describe to you how often I mis-time my day and only realize about a half hour before I am supposed to leave that I’m about to spend the next three hours in transport and in class, neither of which are conducive to eating, without any food in me. So I make something quick which can be nuked in the time it takes me to get dressed.

But it’s Passover and I miss my Chik’n nuggets and tangy BBQ sauce snack/quick meal. So I went to my local Kosher shop and just knew that they would have pre-made chicken nuggets and they did. But even if you are like me and are well aware that all the extra costs of cleaning for Passover are built into your food, you might not be prepared for the fact that they were selling four chicken fingers (maybe about the size of 1.5 nuggets each?) for $5.15. Seriously. The mind boggles. So instead I walked away with a package of chicken breast and a box of the Passover equivalent of Shake n’ Bake which is made of the ubiquitous mix of matzah meal (or matzah mel as my mother called it; I think that’s Yiddish), potato starch, and spices. Then I went home, cut up the chicken into nugget size, and proceeded to create some semblance of what we call chicken nuggets. And they tasted fab!

Hey, did you know that you can’t have dishes made with flour or corn, like breaded chicken nuggets, noodles, or corn flakes, on Passover? If so, then you are already ahead of the Pioneer Woman, everyone’s favorite Internet recipe sharer. Now, this is not to take an easy poke at Ree because God bless her for doing a Passover recipe when she’s not even Jewish and I doubt more than 5% of her readers are. For the record, here are her three mistakes:

1. A noodle kugel, and with corn flake topping, for Passover
2. Stating originally that a dairy recipe should be served with meat.
3. Correcting herself to state that the kugel isn’t Kosher for Passover because it’s dairy and the seder is a meat meal. In fact, you can easily have a dairy seder, but either way, serving dairy with meat isn’t not Kosher for Passover, it’s not Kosher, period.

But again, hurray to her for trying, and the inadvertently comical nature was kind of awesome. No, instead I’d like to pick a quibble with the commenters. I should state right off that it’s already my pet peeve when people ewewew others’ food choices (if I had to list my top ten reasons why I’m happy to no longer be at Big Ass Record Company, the guy who said “ew, that is so gross” every time I had fish for lunch would be way up there), but it’s somehow even more disturbing when it’s an ethnic or religious food item. Maybe I’m too politically correct but those “I could never eat that staple of life those people have been eating for forever” comments just rub me the wrong way. That’s all to say that, Ree, I forgive you for your totally wrong Noodle Kugel on Passover recipe and bringing a ham to someone’s seder (really!) but I just cannot forgive your commenters for:

“When I saw the word ‘Kugel,’ I thought you were giving us a recipe for Kegel exercises.”

“this is the first time I’ve questioned your recipe sanity. I twitched a little when you dumped the sugar in the noodles.”

“Well, I cringed when I saw the peaches.”

“Sorry this one does not look good to me at all. Peaches and noodles in the same dish. ??”

“I have a thing about mixing foods together that should not be. Noodles-Peaches- nuh-uh!”

“Umm.. This has got to be one of the most bizarre recipes… LOL… not sure I want to try it…”

“No… nope, nuh-uh, negative. You will NEVER convince me to eat noodles mixed with peaches and baked in milk… blargh”

“Nastiest crap EVER!”

One person even blogged about how this Jewish custom was an aberration of nature. Thanks!

So, a PSA for an Easter-Passover morning: Ashkenazic Jews eat something called kugel. The noodle kind often has bits of fruit in it. Get over it! Learn to live experimentally like this well-intentioned yet spellingly-challenged person:

“I would never think to combine egg noodles with fruit…so different, at least to me. I need a potlock dish, so maybe I’ll try this. Thanks for expanding my pallet.”

Indeed. Remember, we grew up on hummus before PW’s readers could tell it apart from spackling paste. And look at what’s the trendy food now. But even if you could never do that, how about, “I’ve never heard of such a dish, with noodles and peaches. Interesting. Very interesting.” Someone did say that, despite the fact that I didn’t put it in blockquotes. It messed up my unified paragraph. But see how you can say, “I would never eat that” without telling an entire culture that you think their customs are freakish?

Not to mention, realize that things you eat every day would seem gross in abstraction, you are just used to eating them. Dried out, processed grain cereal floating in cow’s milk….ew! A chicken’s unfertilized egg? Blech. Have you never traveled and tasted something that you’d never even considered a food but that tasted divine? No? You need to get out more. This is one of the reasons why Jamie Oliver thinks he needs to change Americans’ food habits. But as much as all that annoys me, mocking someone’s traditions is always off-limits to a well-brought-up person. I’m not trying to be an offense collector, I just think it’s sort of a rude thing to do. I always wanted to call that guy at work’s parents and tell them they missed an important piece of parenting.

But thanks, Pioneer Woman, for being inclusive, even if your audience isn’t quite ready to expand their, er, pallets. Just don’t bring a ham to my seder.