Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jews Love: Street Food

Every day, when I walk to work I pass many hot dog stands. About 1/3 of them (this is not a scientific estimate) claim that the hot dogs are "kosher." They probably use Hebrew National Franks, which as some of you might know, was the subject of a scandal a few years back, had their hashgacha* revoked, and then got it back. So, as far as I can tell, the hot dogs are kosher now. Yet, as far as I can tell, people don't buy them off of the street (or from Yankee stadium, where there is a seperate hot dog stand).

I really want to eat from these. Always.

This is one of the reasons why I love Israel. There are many, but one of the silliest/most enjoyable is that I can eat their street food. Not only do I love shwarma, and falafel, but I can eat it almost everywhere in Israel. Off of the street. Now, this type of behavior amuses my family, but would horrify my maternal grandmother. When my mother and her sisters would eat street food she would say, with disgust "what are you, dogs, that you eat standing up in the middle of the street?"

It turns out that this is actually a religious statement. According to some commentator whose name I cannot recall, Jews are forbidden from eating while in the middle of the marketplace. Or something like that. Someone with more talmudic background than I have should probably look into that. At any rate, I'd really appreciate if someone could give me a heter* to eat from the stands that are specifically labeled as "kosher." I think that the OU should get on that. ASAP.

*Hashgacha: kosher certification, provided by one of several governing bodies, like the OU, the local Va'ad, or another similar organization.

*Heter: permission to do something that might otherwise be forbidden by rabbinic law. This permission is given by a rabbi, or group of rabbis.


Dash said...

Totally accurate post. Jews love street food.

Most of the "kosher" hot dogs I've seen in New York are Shofar dogs, which aren't really worth tempting faith for. The best "damned if you do/totally unsatisfied if you don't" hot dog stands are the Best Kosher stands at US Cellular Park in Chicago. Because of the miracle of modern economics, the only thing cooked on the grills are Best Kosher products--so the grills should be Kosher, right? Now, the buns may be dairy, but the fact remains that it is a de facto Kosher hot dog operation. This is really the 20th century version of setam yenam.

Annie said...

It is so lame! Kashrut basically seems like it is run by a cabal of shady figures. There are so many things which should be kosher, but aren't because OU or similar denied them a certification.

Anonymous said...

The OU will give hashgacha to any street cart that is willing to pay them. But the OU claims you can't even eat at a haagen daaz unless it has certification despite the fact that all the ice cream comes in with an OU on the container. But that's why the OU is the head of the kashrut mafia.

SaraK said...

There's a (reliable) kosher certified street vendor in midtown. My coworkers wonder why I don't eat there, even though it's kosher. I could care less how kosher it is, it's food made on the street! Yuck!

JT said...

To add to SaraK's post, there is a falafel cart on 46th. Yum!

Just ask for tehina on the side or it gets too messy :).