A few weeks ago I had the hysterical pleasure of attending the 25th annual Kosherfest, the world’s largest kosher-certified products trade show. It’s an event dedicated to the newest and wackiest kosher foods available, but it’s also a meeting place of diverse food-interested Jews.
The two-day event feels like a synagogue kiddush on steroids: everything from basic cakes and cookies to gourmet gelato, fine wines and upscale BBQ food and the pervasive shoving and jockeying for position that inevitably occurs when hungry Jews are presented with seemingly endless platters of free food.
It was like a giant game of Jewish geography, where you’re likely to run into everyone from your old camp counselor to your great-aunt’s mahjong partner. After all the Jewish geography and elbowing, I was able to make my way through the booths and taste some of the food.
In the delicious category the award goes to Gelato Petrini’s chocolate hazelnut and tiramisu flavored gelato – they were rich, creamy and a real treat from the frozen yogurt I am accustomed to eating.
The Ice Cream House’s cute ice cream sushi roll and Dependable Foods’ pizza cones may not win any awards for taste, but certainly deserve points for creativity and cute factor.
Pareve macaroni and cheese and hot chocolate? May sound unappealing but Mikee Mac’s non-dairy instant mac and cheese Cuppa J Hot Chocolate both won me over despite the lack of dairy.
And while I am not a big meat eater, I was impressed by the Italian Sausage Burger from Jack’s Gourmet.
Hanukkah is just around the corner, and so I must make mention of some holiday-specific dishes including Dr. Praeger’s kale pancake, an instant new favorite. Manischewitz’s Chanukah Cookie House featured menorah and mezuzah sugar icing decorations. And Saba Habib’s extra virgin olive oil was distinctly smooth, with an almost fruity flavor; I sopped it up with a slice of baguette and felt positively Mediterranean, ready for the festival of lights and oil.
The food was eclectic and delicious, vendors vied desperately for passersby, and it was absolute Jewish food mayhem.
It was a great day, even with all the elbow-dodging and acid reflux. But on a more serious note, Kosherfest is one of the few events I attend where I see all different types of Jews, from Hasidic to the most unaffiliated to everything in between, represented both behind the booths and circling the floor. It’s kind of nice that we all come together in harmony for something, if only for our unabashed love of food. Until next year!
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.
Pronounced: muh-NOHR-uh, Origin: Hebrew, a lamp or candelabra, often used to refer to the Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah.
Pronounced: muh-ZOO-zuh (oo as in book), Origin: Hebrew, a small box placed on the right doorpost of Jewish homes. It contains a parchment scroll with verses from the Torah inscribed on it, including the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21).