July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

About once a year, give or take, I write an article about food trends. Yidden are not really ones to keep up with trends, but they do when it’s about food.

So every year, for the past 17 years or so, I’ve been going to a food show called Kosherfest, which took place every November during flu season, and scoping out new products and saying, “I guess these must be the trends!”

But then last year, I got an email that said that Kosherfest had been discontinued. The market has shifted, the email said, and people don’t need food shows anymore.

And then I started getting condolence emails from people: “I really enjoyed the Kosherfest articles, and I know you enjoyed writing them. Whatever will you do?”

So I started thinking about how I was going to have to start walking around multiple supermarkets every week specifically looking for new products, and then hoping they were new products and not just products I’d never noticed before, and to be honest, it sounds like a lot of work. I did not get into humor columnism to do a lot of work.

But then the very next day, I got an email that said, “Guess what! There’s a new food show starting this year! During Mental-Health Awareness Month.”

The Jewish people don’t stay down for long.

And I said, “Yay! Wait, I thought the market no longer supports this kind of thing!”

But I didn’t ask too many questions, because that’s not the kind of reporter I am.

The new show is called the J-Food show, and it’s basically the same as Kosherfest, except that it doesn’t have the word “kosher” in its title.

Don’t get me wrong—all the food there is kosher. And not all the food there is Jewish. Like for example, there’s a whole class of foods that are not specifically Jewish, although their names make them sound Jewish. Those were all at the show: Foods like focaccia, cones, biltong, kimchi, truffles, and things that are par-baked.

“So you’re telling me a par baked these things?”

But not everything is in a name. Kosherfest sounds more heimish, for example, because it contains the word “kosher” and the word “fest,” but this show was pretty heimish in its own way. And on top of that, it was continuing the legacy of a bunch of Yidden coming together for food, and also one Amish family that I saw that had me wondering, Do the Amish keep kosher? Or did they mishear the word Heimish?

I didn’t realize until later that they worked for one of the booths. They worked for a company that sold cheese made out of goats’ milk, which is one big trend. I did taste it, and it was amazing—it mamash tastes like you’re licking the side of a goat.

Another choice that is very in now was something a lot of the meat companies were advertising—that they raise their animals with no antibiotics, sort of like the Amish. The logic, I think, is that they figure, “We’re going to kill the animal anyway; why give them antibiotics? So they can live longer?”

“Wow, the shechita didn’t take!”

Another kind of cheese that’s very popular now is pareve cheese, but not because it’s good. People like cheese, but they don’t like milchigs, which is what they discover during the Nine Days and Shavuos. It’s weird: People are afraid to be fleishig, but then they’re afraid of eating milchigs.

And what else is there?

Really, I think people want their meals to be fleishig, but they want to be able to have milchig snacks between meals. There are very few good fleishig snacks. There’s meat boards (which is like a cold cut platter but the stuff falls off easier), but then you can’t walk around on the street eating from a meat board. Not unless you want a pack of dogs chasing you.

But we like things we can carry around. That’s why “pickles in a pouch” are now a thing.

People have always been bringing pickles out of the house with them, but it’s always been in one of those fold-over sandwich bags that don’t close. Now, thanks to the miracle of technology, you can have the juice spilling all over the place, lending a nice vinegar smell to your car or the subway or your Uber or whatever. Also, you used to be able to just crumple the sandwich bag back into your backpack when you were done; now you have to deal with the pickle juice. Or you can just pour it on the ground like a maniac.

Yogurt also comes in a pouch now. Yogurt has always been a travel food, but it came in a cup with fruit at the bottom. That’s what they wrote: “Fruit at the bottom!” like that was a decision they came to, rather than the physics of what happens when you put fruit in yogurt.

Another huge trend these days is new types of challah. Jewish people are always going to eat challah, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up a little. Hence things like sourdough.

I haven’t gotten into the sourdough craze, because my wife makes whole-wheat challah every Shabbos which I love if I know what’s good for me. (Whole wheat is good for me.) A husband eats whatever challah his wife says he eats, although he is free to make his own challah to eat during the week if he’d like. It’s a free country.

But another huge thing is different varieties of flour. My wife and I recently discovered a new brand of white-whole-wheat challah that is moist and delicious, and we’ve never looked back. I actually saw that manufacturer at the show, and I said, “We love your white-whole-wheat challah!” and he said, “You should try our spelt-and-kamut challah!”

Because he thinks I’m in charge of what kind of challah we’re having. So I gave him my wife’s number.

What even is kamut? Speaking of foods whose names make them sound Jewish.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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