Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kosher Cheeseburgers

I don't get why this is such a shock to people, as I've seen these eaten for years already and it's not like there aren't Kosher Subway restaurants around the country, but okay.
According to an article in the NY Blueprint, a Kosher, Manhattan restaurant (”Talia’s”) is now offering a Kosher cheeseburger - made with soy cheese.

The following are excerpts of the article:

“After many attempts to melt the cheese, they found the right temperature in a 1950 degree (F) broiler. A broiler so hot it can cook a steak in minutes. As the chef placed my burger in the broiler I watched the cheese melt over it. He placed it on a toasted bun topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles and I walked my burger back to my table.

Like myself, Effie (owner of the restaurant), had never had a cheeseburger before, so he brought some non-Jewish friends to try out his new burger and they loved it. He told me that he’s had some lactose intolerant, non-kosher, customers order the burger.

With my cheeseburger, side of fries and a coke, I felt like I was in a diner of a classic old film, another experience we kosher-eating-Jews don’t have in New York.

While I may not know what a meat and dairy cheeseburger tastes like, I can tell you that Talia’s Steakhouse will serve you a well-prepared kosher cheeseburger with all the looks of the real thing.”

The comments at Yeshiva World are rather humorous (alternatively, depressing) as almost all of them decry this as some kind of shanda. I'm reminded yet again that some mindsets are simply hard to fathom. While I understand why some people would initially make a face at the idea, and perhaps even voice concerns about ma'aras ayin or chinuch if others might think that cheeseburgers made of meat and cheese are kosher as well, I'd presume that it is quite clear the restaurant is using soy products - much as Subway does, much as any kosher place which uses soy or other 'fake' products to replace dairy or meat products that otherwise wouldn't be found with the food being served.

I wonder if the difficulty people have in differentiating between ideas, preconceptions (even logical ones), and how things actually work in the real world is one of the largest causes of problems within the Jewish community. People get so hung up on ideas or 'rules' which make sense in one situation that they completely fail to see how those don't apply in others. It's completely pathetic.

When I was in high school, my class as a whole often had issues with lo plug - 'no differentiation'. In other words, the school had certain rules, and refused to make exceptions regardless of any logic presented against those rules. One can debate whether or not this is good policy for a school, but it is certainly understandable at the least why a school would make such rules for its students in high school. But life is not high school. The concept of lo plug certainly has its applications in life, but these reactions to *kosher* food, common sense ideas, and the like are getting beyond ridiculous.

Priorities*, common sense, logic... where have all of these disappeared to!?

Update: ASJ's Chabakuk Elisha chimes on with a very well-put post.

* loosely related