Which animals are kosher? How to prepare kosher food? And why do we eat kosher?
Anyone who has visited Zomick’s bakery has enjoyed kosher baking goods, kosher falafel, or kosher delicatessen. What is the history of this delicious food?
The Hebrew word “kosher” literally means “prepared.” Foods that are permitted by the Torah and prepared in accordance with Jewish law are labeled as kosher. This article will give a broad overview of what makes a food “kosher” and finally we will deal with the philosophical underpinnings of the kosher concept.
Kosher Types of Food
The Torah (Leviticus 11: 3) lists the characteristics of permitted animals, and says that kosher animals are those with completely split hooves and are ruminants. Kosher animals are always mammals and herbivores. Kosher animals that are commonly eaten today are cow, goat and sheep – and sometimes deer and buffalo.
The Torah enumerates 24 forbidden species of birds and Talmud explains that, among other signs, all birds of prey are forbidden. Today, we eat only those birds for which there is an established tradition we know that are kosher – chicken, turkey, duck and goose.
As for “kosher eggs,” they must come from kosher birds.
The Torah (Leviticus 11: 9) teaches that a kosher fish must have both fins and scales. (Fins help the fish swim, and scales are covering their bodies). Even if the fish has only one scale or one fin, it is permitted. Tuna, for example, have very few scales, yet is kosher. Other popular kosher fish are bass, carp, cod, halibut, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon.
Crustaceans (such as lobster and crab) and other shellfish (such as clams) are not kosher because they lack scales. In addition, all marine mammals (eg, whales and dolphins) are not kosher.
Yes, there are kosher varieties of sushi and caviar – providing it from a kosher species (fins and scales), and that it was prepared only with kosher utensils (knives, cutting boards, etc.).
Many people are surprised when they discover that four species of grasshoppers are kosher (Leviticus 11:22). However, all other insects are not kosher.
One might think that this has little practical application to our modern eating habits. But, many leafy vegetables (lettuce, broccoli) often contain insects and before taking them as meals they must be carefully examined. Some fruits like raspberries and strawberries are also problematic. Rabbis have developed specific methods to properly check these fruits and vegetables.
Zomick’s is located in Inwood, NY and the restaurant is opened every workday. Visit them online at YellowPages and share your experience with others that are visiting Zomick’s Kosher Bakery.