Chicken parmesan. Shrimp cocktail. Prosciutto. What do these delicacies have in common? They’re all forbidden fruit in the garden of kashrut. And by that I mean they’re all treif (unkosher) food many kosher-keeping Jews have always wanted to try, but can’t.
Besides being overseen by a rabbi, what makes a dish kosher? There are various laws regarding what is and isn’t acceptable for Jews to eat, but the crux of the matter boils down to four basic rules: land animals should have hooves and chew their cud; sea creatures need fins and scales; birds must not be scavengers or birds of prey; and of course, don’t mix meat with milk.
There’s a myriad of rules that narrow down the list of kosher-approved items which can often be frustrating, especially in places where the most popular plates are treif, like the U.S. where cheeseburgers and pork reign supreme.
Major props are in order for those who’ve stood their religious ground and not succumbed to the mouthwatering aroma of crispy bacon. Like the forbidden apple Eve munched on from the Tree of Knowledge, we know it can be very tempting to eat something off limits, which begs the question: What’s a kosher Jew’s most coveted treif food?
Out of a sample size of nearly 100 kosher Jews, these were the most popular answers:
Almost a quarter of people surveyed admitted all they want is a little bit of unkosher seafood. Scallops, oysters, shrimp, lobster, calamari… the list goes. Reminder: Only fish which have scales and fins are kosher.
2. Butter on everything and anything
“Explaining why I want butter on something seems needless,” one respondent said. It’s not that butter itself isn’t kosher, but combining meat and dairy is. A handful of people admitted they dream of a big porterhouse steak slathered in butter, or any meat-based sauced with dairy. Why is dairy and meat unkosher? Because the Torah said so. In Exodus 23:6, the law dictates not to “cook a kid in its mother’s milk.”
Ah, the cheeseburger: an American classic. Of course this is towards the top of the list. As we learned (see #2), slapping an ooey, gooey slice of cheese on a juicy burger is a no-no. But it is delicious.
You’d think bacon would be the most popular answer, but nope. Maybe because turkey bacon is a sufficient substitute. Anyway, it’s notable that a rabbi immediately revealed this was his forbidden fruit. Pig is perhaps the most notoriously unkosher food item. Although the treif animal does have split hooves, it doesn’t chew its cud. But kosher keepers, fear not: Check out these 11 vegan ways to enjoy bacon.
5. Buttermilk fried chicken
Kosher Jews really want to lather meat with dairy products, but Exodus 23:6 just won’t let ’em! According to one respondent who did extensive research, replacing buttermilk with pineapple juice may achieve the same taste. Or you can try this za’atar fried chicken.
6. Italian Subs
Mmm, it doesn’t get much more treif than melted mozzarella cheese over a piping hot piece of breaded chicken, meatballs, or veal. Yum. But schnitzel is a pretty good substitute (try this drool-worthy schnitzel sandwich).
7. The Reuben
A deli staple, the traditional Reuben sandwich consists of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing slapped in between two slices of rye bread. But, as one kosher Jew put it, it’s “the greatest non-kosher Jewy sandwich in the world.” Eliminate the cheese and the Russian dressing, though, and you’ve got yourself a slightly less tasty but legitimately kosher meal. Or, try this totally kosher vegetarian version of a Reuben.