Visiting “The Butcherie” a Jewish Grocery Store.

It is always such a joy for me to visit grocery stores from different countries. To me it’s the closest to walking in a different planet for free! ^ ^ So, I knew I would be doing this as soon as I got Israel as my seventh country to visit virtually.

The Butcherie is located in Brookline, MA. A place I consider one of my hometowns! I grew up part of my life in this beautiful neighborhood. From age 11 to 14. And it is here where I learned English! Many years later as my fate? would have it … I live basically two blocks from where I lived as a child. So now I have lived in this neighborhood for about 16 years total… making it almost a third of my life! And interestingly enough, I think I may have gone into this store three times counting this one. Israeli food was not something I was familiar with. But now… I’m happy to say this is changing… as I am bolder in trying or attempting to cook foreign dishes because of this virtual venture.

The Butcherie is small and I timed it to be a few days after Passover. That way I would be able to see some of the food of this important Jewish celebration without the mob of people fighting to get to their favorite staples. There were many signs everywhere that read… “Kosher for Passover.”

I had heard about the word Kosher before, and I knew that for example Jewish people do not eat ham or anything that comes from pigs. Also that one may not eat dairy products with meat… they must never come in contact with each other. From a friend (that went with me to The Butcherie), I learned that the blood must be completely drained form the animal one is to consume. She also said that they do not consume shellfish of any kind. I was a bit curious as to why… and it’s because of the Hebrew bible. “The basic laws are of Biblical origin (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 17). For thousands of years, Rabbinic scholars have interpreted these laws and applied them to contemporary situations.” (1)

Jewish philosophy divides the 613 commandments (or mitzvot) into three groups—laws that have a rational explanation and would probably be enacted by most orderly societies (mishpatim), laws that are understood after being explained but would not be legislated without the Torah’s command (eidot), and laws that do not have a rational explanation (chukim).

Some Jewish scholars say that kashrut (or the state of being Kosher) should be categorized as laws for which there is no particular explanation since the human mind is not always capable of understanding divine intentions. In this line of thinking, the dietary laws were given as a demonstration of God’s authority, and man must obey without asking why. (2)

Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus, כַּשְׁרוּת‎) is a set of dietary laws dealing with the foods that Jews are permitted to eat and how those foods must be prepared according to Jewish law. Food that may be consumed is deemed Kosher , meaning “fit for consumption”. (2)

And I found out there is A LOT of more rules… Here are some. These were taken from oukosher. com:

Kosher Meat and Non-Kosher Meat, Poultry, and Fish

Non-kosher animals—any mammals without certain identifying characteristics (cloven hooves and rumination); any birds of prey; any fish without fins or scales (thus excluding catfish, for instance).

Meat:

The Torah states that kosher mammals are those that chew their cud (ruminants) and are cloven-hoofed. The following animal species are among those considered to be kosher: addax, antelope, bison, cow, deer, gazelle, giraffe, goat, ibex and sheep. In addition, kosher meat and poultry require special preparation, which will be discussed below.

Poultry:

The Torah does not enumerate specific characteristics to distinguish permitted and forbidden birds. Instead, it enumerates 24 forbidden species of fowl, while all other birds are considered to be kosher. In the United States, the only poultry accepted by mainstream kashrut organizations as kosher are chicken, turkey, duck and goose.

Fish:

Fish:

The Torah establishes two criteria to determine which fish are kosher. The fish must have fins and scales. The scales must be easily removable without damaging the skin. [Generally, scales on kosher fish are either thin, rounded and smooth-edged (cycloid) or narrow segments that are similar to teeth of a comb (ctenoid)]. All shellfish are prohibited. Unlike meat and poultry, fish requires no special preparation.

Meat & Poultry Processing

Shechita (Slaughter):

The Torah requires that meat and poultry be slaughtered in a prescribed manner known as shechita. The trachea and esophagus of the animal are severed with a special razor-sharp, perfectly smooth blade, causing instantaneous death with no pain to the animal. Only a trained kosher slaughterer (shochet), whose piety and expertise have been attested to by rabbinic authorities, is qualified to slaughter an animal for kosher consumption.

Bedika (Inspection):

After the animal has been properly slaughtered, a trained inspector (bodek) inspects the internal organs for any physiological abnormalities that may render the animal non-kosher (treif). The lungs, in particular, must be examined in order to determine that there are no adhesions (sirchot), which may be indicative of a puncture in the lungs. If an adhesion is found, the bodek must further examine it carefully to determine its kosher status. It should be noted that in addition to fulfilling the requirements of halacha (Jewish law), the bedika of internal organs insures a standard of quality that exceeds government requirements.

Glatt Kosher:

Though not all adhesions render an animal non-kosher, some Jewish communities or individuals only eat meat of an animal that has been found to be free of all adhesions on its lungs. “Glatt” literally means “smooth”, indicating that the meat comes from an animal whose lungs have been found to be free of all adhesions. Recently, the term “glatt kosher” is increasingly used more broadly as a generic phrase, implying that the product is kosher without question.

Nikkur (Excising):

In some kosher animal species, many blood vessels, nerves and lobes of fat are forbidden and must be removed. There are special cutting procedures for beef, veal and lamb known as nikkur (Hebrew word for “excising” ), which must be performed by a specially trained individual.

Koshering Meat:

The Torah forbids the consumption of the blood of an animal. The two accepted methods of extracting blood from meat, a process referred to as “kashering”, are either salting or broiling.

Meat should not be placed in warm water before it has been “kashered”. Once meat is cooked prior to kashering, it cannot be made kosher.

One part of me want to joke and say… “Geez talk about being picky about your food”… but another is in absolute awe of how well they treat the animal in its time of death.

There are many other rules, here is the one that forbids the use of dairy and meat together:

Meat and Milk in the Kosher Kitchen

The Torah forbids: 1) cooking meat and milk together in any form; 2) eating such cooked products, or 3) deriving benefit from them. As a safeguard, the Rabbis extended this prohibition to disallow the eating of meat and dairy products at the same meal or preparing them on the same utensils. Furthermore, milk products cannot be consumed after eating meat, for a period of time. There are different traditions for how long to wait between meat and dairy, but the most prevalent custom is to wait six hours.

Meat may be eaten following dairy products with the one exception of hard cheese that is aged 6 months or more, which requires the same waiting time as that of dairy after meat. Prior to eating meat after dairy, one must eat a solid food, either drink a liquid or thoroughly rinse one’s mouth, and check the cleanliness of ones hands.

Utensils: Unless one is a vegetarian and meat is totally excluded from his kitchen, a kosher kitchen must have two different sets of utensils, one for meat and poultry and the other for dairy foods. There must be separate, distinct sets of pots, pans, plates and silverware.

Washing Dishes: Ideally, it is best to have two kitchen sinks, one for meat and the other for dairy. If this is not feasible, and one uses one sink for both meat and dairy, dishes and utensils should be placed and washed on a rack, so as not to touch the sink. Separate racks are to be used for meat and dairy use. Care must be taken to make sure that the water should not be allowed to rise to reach the level of the rack, and dishes cannot be soaked in a sink used for both dairy and meat.

Eggs: The eggs (or other by-products) of non-kosher birds or fish are not kosher. Caviar, therefore, must come from a kosher fish and this requires reliable supervision. Commercial liquid eggs also require supervision. Eggs of kosher fowl that contain a blood spots must be discarded, and therefore eggs should be checked before use.

If you wish to read more about the rest of the rules go HERE.

One last thing I learned while reading about Kosher is what Pareve foods are! I had heard this word before… and finally I found out what it means…

Pareve Foods:

The adjective ‘pareve’ means that the food item does not contain dairy or meat ingredients, and it was not processed with heat on dairy or meat equipment. Pareve foods are neutral and may be eaten with meat or dairy foods.

I know I’m going to sound dumb when I say this, but one of the things I found out about Israeli food is that a lot of their food is Middle Eastern food. I had not idea… I had never really put any real thought into it and I figured they had their separate food somehow. And they do, but they also eat a lot of foods that are consumed in the Middle East. Like Falafel, Olives, Pomegranates, Dates, Fish… here are some photos from The Butcherie that illustrate this:

Then there were traditional Jewish foods like Challah bread and matzah meal, and balls:

And I learned, they are into wine and in spite of being a very small country they produce a lot of it!

I even got a map they gave away showing the wineries with Israel:

Here is a dish used for Passover:

And this is the front of the store:

Here is the shopper…

And her buys:

I will report back about them!

Credits

(1) https://oukosher.org/the-kosher-primer/

(2) Wikipedia

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