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Monday, November 28, 2022
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Every year when I go to Kosherfest, I gain an appreciation for the diversity and the ingenuity of the Jewish people. And about 10 pounds.

Kosherfest is a trade fair that allows companies in the kosher food industry to showcase their latest products and examine recent market trends, such as the trend of putting pretzels in salad. When I was little, no one wanted pretzels for a snack, because they were too healthy. We wanted chips. But then someone figured that if it’s healthy, why not just put it in salad?

So companies show up, and they set out whatever new food product it is that they stand behind, and then they stand behind it. It’s like a science fair, but with food samples. It’s a quick opportunity to make several deals and contacts on the same day, which is not easy to do when people keep coming over to you just as you’ve stuffed something into your face but haven’t swallowed yet, and asking you what you do for the company printed on your badge besides eat samples.

I’m not in the kosher food industry, obviously. I get in because… Well, I don’t know why they let me in. I tell them I’m press, which is sort of true. The paper I write for is press.

So one trend that I noticed, which is very big nowadays, is sea salt. Lots of companies were touting it as an ingredient. It’s like salt, but from the sea!

I was under the impression that all salt came from the sea.

Clearly, the food industry has decided that the sea is a major selling point. Yes, some people think that sea salt is healthier, but from what I’ve read, if you’re eating enough sea salt for there to be a health difference, you should stop eating that much salt.

And speaking of things you shouldn’t be eating, there’s also a huge trend of being allergic to things, or at least of inventing foods for people who are. For example, there was something called Vegan Toona, which is spelled that way for legal reasons. It’s not tuna. According to the can, it’s plant-based. In fact, for legal reasons they can’t even write “made from plants.” It’s based on plants. Like they saw plants, and they thought, “Hey, vegan toona!”

But the biggest imitation food this year, trend-wise, was “gluten-free,” based on a concept that is pretty new. Up until a few years ago, we’d never even heard of gluten. I thought gluten was a body part. In fact, I think they invented gluten just so they could make things gluten-free. I’ve never seen someone taste something and go, “Not enough gluten.”

Well, we kind of do when we eat Pesach food.

On the other hand, it’s possible that some people were always allergic to gluten, we just didn’t know that. We just thought that sometimes people died early for no reason.

Another huge deal this year was hot sauce. Hot sauce is very popular lately. It’s not only great for spicing things up, but also for drowning out the taste of a food you’re not crazy about. It can’t be a coincidence that as the number of imitation allergy-friendly, diet-friendly foods increases, so do the varieties of hot sauce.

One new type of hot sauce I tried was sriracha, which comes in a convenient easy-pour bottle and is made from a delicate blend of chili peppers, garlic and volcanoes. Here’s what I found:

  1. It’s very good, if you don’t mind flames shooting out of your mouth when you talk. (This can make a wonderful first impression at your mini business meetings, especially if the company’s booth is flammable.)
  2. It’s hard to get it out of your clothes, no matter how much you panic and look around for a booth that’s giving out club soda. Or bibs.

So after momentarily trying to figure out if any of the booths might be giving out aprons, I decided to move my badge to cover the stain. So that’s what that’s for.

And speaking of things you can spill on your shirt, Greek yogurt is also a huge trend. (Greek yogurt is like regular yogurt, but you can really taste the extra three dollars.) I saw like five new varieties, including Greek kids’ yogurt (for Greek kids), frozen yogurt and spreadable yogurt. Isn’t all yogurt spreadable? If your yogurt’s not spreadable, it might be expired. (Or frozen.) But my point is that apparently, the Greek culture is everywhere now.

(That was a yogurt pun. It was also a pun about how messily I eat.)

Meanwhile, some companies came out with more unique products. For example, one company came out with something called a “beef stick,” which is the width of a pencil and about four feet long. And you don’t have to refrigerate it, which is great, because you know what happens when you try putting your lulav in the fridge. You’d have to clear a spot on the door.

Officially, it’s meant for travel, which is just as well, because none of my plates are four feet long. None of my serving platters either. I’d have to put a leaf in the table.

But people like eating while walking around, as is evidenced by Kosherfest. Sometimes you’re travelling, and you need energy, and you don’t know where your next meal’s coming from, but you do know that you want to be fleishig for the next six hours.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected]

 

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