WARNING: WHINING (completely without merit, I might add):
We were in Orlando all weekend at an advocacy training. It was my husband's journey and I went along for the ride. He had asked for kosher meals - it had worked fine on our last trip -- but these were some of the worst food I have ever eaten. To the point where I was actively angry - angry! that this had become part of my life. They were in boxes, sealed with cellophane so the kashrut could be guaranteed. The first night the hotel sent them up with a wonderful bellman named Nelson and a tiny microwave where he heated them for us. The meal was called Buffalo Chicken Wings with Rice and Corn. It was a mush of rice, corn and way way waaaaay overcooked chicken wings. And tomato sauce. Plus it was spicy which I hate. Somehow this became very important to me - not sure why.
In the morning we were able to eat hard boiled eggs on plastic plates w/plastic silverware. Not so bad. Lunch brought spaghetti with weird meat-balls and tomato-flavored library paste. I took some salad from the conference buffet - which included – but was unavailable to me -- rye bread (not kosher), cold cuts (not kosher) and cheese (not kosher.) We had Sushi for dinner which is ok and was good.
I often quote our friend MONK - "Here's the thing." I have spent a lot of time working on learning the rules of kashrut and often spend Friday evenings reviewing the rules (the books here [How to Keep Kosher and the Spice and Spirit Cookbook] are the best I've found) but it's just hard both to figure out and to execute on the road. I only buy food for our home with a hechscher (that U with a circle around it at the top of this post) and I know now to cook. As I've said before, the home stuff is fine - comfortable and real.
I think that the real problem isn’t the food it’s the exclusionary nature of this portion of the observant life. I’m going to have to learn how to manage it and keep writing about it until it feels better because right now it feels lonely in some odd way. Then I go to an event or to services at our synagogue and realize why I’m doing this. My husband calls it “the yoke of heaven” and reminds me that I’ve chosen it and will find a way to live within it. I know that’s true and that whether I eat crummy spaghetti is really not the issue. Reading the New York Times travel section and knowing I really can’t eat in most of the restaurants there is more the issue. OR wander into a Guatemalan hole-in-the-wall on 16th St. or a Greek place downtown or a Vietnamese place in Paris or even a steak house in Chicago!
HOLD ON!! I know as I read this how spoiled I sound. I’ve spent my life in amazing adventures in travel AND food and it’s not like I’ve never had these experiences. I am just really struggling with surrender I think. In some circles they call it “turning it over” to God. Our rabbi says “There is a God and it’s not me.” If I accept that then I have to accept the observant principles that inform the faith and the peace it offers. Most of the time I can. But boy it’s a bumpy journey.