Monday, May 24, 2010

Traveling While Jewish: Kashrut

These musings come out of a long cross-country road trip. While this posting is probably particularly relevant to those who do not “eat out” (i.e. don’t eat at establishments that are not kosher-certified), it may also be relevant to other kosher-keeping travelers as well.

A few pieces of advice: (1) many places have at least a limited amount of kosher food available, so you should definitely look into options ahead of time rather than assuming the worst; (2) that said, the options are often very limited, and in some places it is almost impossible to find certain items (like kosher cheese and bread).

If you need to take your food with you, travel with a cooler, take at least one knife, and try to stay in places with mini-fridges. This will greatly increase the range of foods available. In addition to eating tuna, crackers and bread, we had fresh fruit, salad, cheese, and milk (for cereal) making for much more pleasant and balanced meals.

Also, look into what might be available even if there is not a kosher grocery store. For example, although the availability of hechshered bread will still vary regionally, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both carry a number of hechshered foods, including cheeses, nation-wide, so if they are nearby you will find many more products available than you might otherwise expect in areas without large Jewish populations. That said, Trader Joes itself is not available in large swaths of the country.

Favorite home-made meal of the trip: Avocado-Tomato-and-Goat-Cheese sandwich with salad.

Favorite “restaurant” meal of the trip: Kosher taco cart in LA (Pico-Robertson area) motzei shabbat. The real deal. Tacos that happen to be kosher rather than the other way around. Yum. Of course, I’m not sure this really counts a restaurant.

Other restaurant highlights included: Indian (dairy) in Austin/Houston, Moroccan (meat) in New Orleans, Coffee and Beignets also in NOLA, delicious dairy pastas and salads in Atlanta, and BBQ in Teaneck. Of course we had some krispy kremes along the way as well.

Most unexpected meal out: in Charleston, SC there is a yoga studio that has hechshered vegan foods at lunchtime (salads and wraps and such – menu based on ingredients of the day).

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