Keeping it Kosher—Local Style

My oldest daughter occasionally stays after Sunday school for a youth group event or Purim play practice or  other extracurricular activities. On the days that I am not driving for the carpool and cannot pick up lunch and bring it to her at noon like the good Jewish mother that I am, she  takes a sack lunch.

This requires a bit of forethought and planning.

Growing up in Hawaii means growing up eating the local food and in that respect she is totally  a “Local Girl.”

Lunch on the go translates to: Spam musubi, or manapua

California roll, fried noodles, Cup Noodles or maybe a Hot Pocket are also acceptable choices.

A peanut butter, or even bologna, sandwich is not the status quo.

This presents no problems on a regular school day or for the occasional field trip. I insist she add in some healthy items like fruits and vegetables and we strike a decent balance.

But when she goes to Temple, none of these are acceptable.

We are Reform Jews and choose not to keep Kosher at home. But we do respect the general Kosher style that is observed at our Synagogue: No pork, shellfish, or combination of meat and dairy foods.

When she realized that Spam musubi and manapua are filled with pork, California roll has imitation crab which seems disrespectful in my book, Cup Noodles contains dried shrimp and Hot Pockets are usually a mixture of milk and meat (at least the ones she likes,) she was shocked.

I chuckled. “This is a good lesson for you,” I told her.

The bagel and cream cheese I offered or the humus and pita she often likes at home were not deemed  reasonable substitutes (did I forget to mention that she is 13 and at that age nothing is a reasonable substitute for your first choice that you cannot have.)

We had to come up with alternatives.

Luckily, she is not completely unreasonable and I have some decent problem solving skills.

Not only Spam and fake crab meat go well with rice. You can make a tuna fish salad hand roll or a plain cucumber maki. She likes both of those. Hot rice with a package of roasted seaweed also makes the cut.

Instead of char siu in the manapua, you can buy them with chicken or vegetables. I know, it’s not the same, but it is a compromise.

Bottom line, I can’t resist telling her, “You should be happy to have food in your mouth.”

Of course, she agrees. And, in a pinch, a peanut butter sandwich will do just fine.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 17:53:35

    Oh don’t I know this feeling! My son and I have the same struggle, we compromise with him eating fast before he goes up to the temple.


  2. Laurie Hanan
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 18:45:58

    We are reformed Jews who not only make an effort at keeping kosher at home, we are also vegetarians. My 14 year old daughter is well into the kosher vegetarian mind set, so a quick stop at 7-Eleven on the way to Sunday school usually involves a box of 4 cone sushi and a can of Arizona ice tea, sometimes with a side of chips. For those who want to keep kosher-style but have no qualms about eating something that’s been alive, 7-Eleven carries chicken musubi, chicken manapua, and a fish thing that comes complete with sticky rice and a sheet of seaweed so you can wrap it yourself. Kids seem to love that.

    Being a kosher-style vegetarian (meaning that in a restaurant I still might eat a vegetarian meal off a plate that has had both meat and dairy on it sometime in its lifetime), I am also familiar with which fast food places carry foods that fit out lifestyle choices. I’ve been know to hit three separate drive throughs to come up with a satisfactory meal.


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