April 20, 2007

Drinking from the firehose

It all started about 4 weeks ago. We decided we wanted to have a kosher kitchen. I may be using the term "we" loosely, but maybe not. Originally, it was my idea, but it wasn't a hard sell. My husband's parents and sister keep a kosher home, and it didn't seem like such a big deal to him.

While my sister keeps kosher, I didn't grow up in a kosher home myself. From what I have seen it looked pretty complicated. My experience had been limited to trying to help someone clean up and having them dive across the kitchen in slow-mo, shouting "Nooooooooo!" as I almost put a glass dish in their sink. I grew up in a family whose Friday night meal was most likely Peking Duck- out at Hunan Palace. While we were Jewish, my father's true religion, and passion, was for shellfish- blue crab, specifically. He eventually bought a summer home just to be able to enjoy catching and eating them. He was not thrilled when my sister became kosher, and until recently, when I thought of keeping kosher the first thing that I thought of was his sad little expression sipping the coffee with the non-dairy creamer at my sister's house after dinner. So it was a quite a leap when I opened this up for discussion with my husband. Yet he seemed unsurprised, and even open to the idea.

But the discussion and thinking that led my husband and myself to keep kosher isn't what inspires me to start this blog. The discussion and thinking part were short and matter-of-fact. We were leaving a friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah- a leisurely drive home. We had a casual, rational chat about the possible benefits of a kosher kitchen for us. From the that point I only remember manic fragments- a black hatted man with a blow torch, an incredible shopping and cleaning spree, phone-stalking my orthodox sister with endless questions, midnight ponderings, color schemes and credit card bills, soul searching regarding the relative importance of take-out, eel sushi and out of town guests... many raised eyebrows on familiar faces and several discarded kitchen items and Tupperware strewn haphazardly about...

And voila- At about 3 PM last Friday, a day short of 3 weeks later- I was admiring my shiny, tiny kosher kitchen. I was happy. I was proud. And I had never done this before.

It is only 1 week later, and I am still getting used to some new habits. I am learning. There are always a few dishes or serving utensils on my fridge, awaiting a verdict, a remedy. But being older than the average newbie, I know that being a newbie at something is a special status. It is something to record and remember. People often pass through their newbie status- being a first-time parent, a freshmen in college, a new classroom teacher- and then, a year later or so, they are no longer quite so green. A year later, you can't imagine how someone can actually *think* about how to change a diaper. A year later it's inconceivable how you used to get lost finding the student center. A year later not only does your voice no longer break when you are teaching for 8 hours straight, you don't remember how *not* to prepare for a class you are about to teach. In fact, I think remembering as much detail as possible about being that beginner phase makes one better teachers once we do master something. But right now I am not looking to teach anyone anything. Right now I am too busy drinking from the fire hose, wondering how to kasher the firehouse, and looking for the hechscher on the firehose.

I just want to record my own learning process and kosher-facation. Maybe I will be able to look back and sympathize. Or see just how far I have come. Or sigh, and say- "what a crazy month *that* was", while I devour my bacon double cheeseburger (I sincerely hope that's not the case). But wouldn't it would be amazing if I find someone else, someone who didn't grow up quite so Yiddishkeit, and isn't orthodox, but nonetheless just happens to be standing in his or her kitchen, holding a spatula in one hand, looking at it, then back at the counter, then back at the spatula again... confused... wondering...

3 comments:

clkl said...

I am *so* proud of you.

All the best,
CLKL

Paul said...

Congrats on the new blog...

come on over to http://www.kosher-ny.com when you want to exchange some tips!

-Paul

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I started keeping a kosher home just before my husband and I were married five years ago. While there have been challenging moments (most involving cheese or prepared foods, or lack thereof), it has been a relatively easy transition for me and has encouraged me to learn to cook the foods I used to buy or eat out.