Kosher dining definitely ain’t what it used to be. “Will it be French, prime rib or sushi tonight?” is not a question kosher diners would have ever imagined asking before the last quarter of the twentieth century. Yet, it looks like the growing attraction to the more exotic kosher fare has joined the classic craving for pastrami on rye with a side of pickles.
People have enjoyed the sweet taste of processed fruit for ages. Jams and jellies were originally produced many centuries ago in Middle Eastern countries where sugar cane grew naturally. The returning crusaders introduced these products to Europe and they became quite popular by the late Middle Ages. When the Spanish arrived in the West Indies in the 16th century, they preserved the fruit using domestic sugar cane. It is interesting to note that the word jelly can be traced to the French word “gelée” which means “to congeal.” Some claim that marmalade was created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots. He mixed orange and crushed sugar and this product was able to contain her seasickness.
Ever cook or bake something only to have it not emerge from the pan in one piece? Imagine this same issue as it confronts a restaurant or commercial bakery, cooking or baking on a large scale. In Los Angeles in 1948, H. Wayne Hanson, the founder of Par-Way Tryson, had just this problem in mind when he invented an oil-based release coating for cooking surfaces. He owned a bakery and was looking for something to substitute for mineral oil, the release agent commonly used at the time. He had a friend who was performing experiments mixing different oils in order to create a blend that could be put on airplane wings to stop ice from forming on them. This gave Mr. Hanson the idea of mixing different oils for baking purposes. His original cake pan oil was a blend of soybean oil, mineral oil, and lecithin, a highly refined soybean oil product. The cake pan oil proved to work so well that eventually Mr. Hanson left the baking business and decided to devote himself to making oil-based products.
It is natural for most Americans to associate Norway with clean, pristine waters. Many Norwegians themselves take pride in how well the country controls pollution and preserves its fjords and glaciers. Ferry service connecting two sides of the same major highway is considered a normal form of transportation (though I was captivated by the views along the way!).
Many people think that to see the real beauty of the United States one must travel to the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, the national parks, Alaska or Hawaii. Let me tell you, there is a great deal of beauty and excitement in our own back yard (if you live in Cleveland, as I do), in Western New York and Pennsylvania. It is my job as OU RFR in those areas to travel the highways, and above all, the byways, enjoying the spectacular scenery while at the same time visiting a host of plants that are OU Kosher. Let’s take a trip together on one of my typical monthly routes.
Kosher Tidbits, an initiative of OU Kosher which presents audio and visual learning sessions regarding contemporary kashrut issues, is nearing the 150 mark with the announcement of its 143rd production last week, “Onions and Radishes: Proceed with Caution,” with Rabbi Hershel Schachter, OU Kosher Senior Halachic Consultant. Available on http://www.ouradio.org and geared toward the general Kosher-observant community across the globe, Kosher Tidbits are an informal and enjoyable means of developing substantial kashrut knowledge. New Tidbits are added to provide insights into aspects of kashrut in today’s world and to show how centuries old halacha is applied to modern technology processes.
A discussion of the Kosher status and rules of Baker’s Cheese.
A tour of South-Eastern United States with an OU Rabbinic Field Representative meeting products and people that leave a lasting impression.
An explanation of how pareve gelatin can be manufactured from beef and therefore be used in dairy products.