DISCLAIMER: I am not a foodie.
One of my healthy foodie friends asked me the following question:
“What’s up with the world of traditional Jewish food? Why is it so slow to change?” Do you know what she’s talking about? I will tell you. Potato kugel, with lots of oil (yum!). Cholent, with red meat. Challah, that’s really cake. Gefilte fish and chicken soup (double yum!). Ooh, I’m making myself hungry. Good thing it’s Thursday.
So I do try to be healthy and eat healthy, but seriously, the definition of what that is, is consistently changing. Dairy: good/bad? Eggs: good/bad? Fish: good/bad? When I have a new Shabbat guest, here’s what I used to ask: “Any food allergies?” Now, I ask: “Any food allergies? Vegetarians? Vegans? Do you eat fish/eggs? Gluten-free?” So yeah, the playing field has changed.
Does “healthy eating” mean no potato kugel? Cuz I can use sweet potatoes, less oil and no eggs, and guess what? It ain’t everyone’s favorite potato kugel no more. Yeah, yeah, it’s all about moderation… it’s not either/or, it’s “and”… I know all this. Two factors, though, make it complex.
1. I have kids.
2. I’m a big believer in (cue Tevye) “tradition!”
So firstly, my kids have, ahem, strong opinions about the foods I cook and serve. Especially for Shabbat and holidays, which are sacrosanct. But moreover, *I* want my kids to get a huge dollop of tradition each time we celebrate these Jewish moments.
When I used to walk in from school on Friday afternoon, the house smelled heavenly! Like challah, roast chicken, and that awesome potato kugel. And you know what? My love affair with Judaism oozes from what I’ve experienced with not just my mind, but all five senses. What Shabbat smells like, tastes like, sounds like, feels like, and looks like are extraordinarily important. My veins flow with this stuff. And I want it to, for my kids as well.
How much can I tamper with the favorites till it’s just not traditional any more?
I know that many of you place a much lesser emphasis on “tradition” than I… some argue that change and progress are far more important. But to folks like me, how to balance?
Thoughts? Input? Tips?