Oh no. They have invited us over and I need to bring something. What are the rules here?
Let’s see… I know they keep Kosher at home but I have it on good authority that Mr. Berg beat my hubby in an all you can eat ribs contest two years ago. Hmmm… are they looking to the token gentile to bring that irreverent plate of shrimp cocktail? Shake things up a bit?
Maybe I’ll bring wine. Copout.
I make the call. “We’re having dairy if that’s OK.”
“Great! What can I bring?”
“Oh… bring anything. Really. Just whatever you like… we’re trying to keep it simple.”
‘Dairy’ means fish. It’s taken me a while to figure this system out but I think I’ve got the hang of it now. You can have dairy with fish, but you can’t have dairy with meat. (poultry, beef, lamb, etc). But, you can have fish with meat. I think. As long as there’s no dairy.
Our Jewish friends all have different standards. By my husband’s rules for example, Lobster is out of the question unless you are in a restaurant in Halifax, or I, his gentile wife, prepares it for a special occasion. A cheeseburger is OK… never with a glass of milk. Bacon is fine. Confusing, I know.
Another friend of ours keeps Kosher at home but all bets are off the second he leaves the house. He eats out, mostly.
Back to this potluck. I will assume that the fish portion will be taken care of by the hostess. What to bring, what to bring… Salad? Kugel?! How obnoxious would that be? The only non-Jewish wife in the room brings a kugel. Ha! Sounds like a minefield I will steer clear of.
Think I’ll leave my Arthur Schwartz schtick on the shelf and go with a salad.
Blue Cheese, Pecan, and Pear Salad
2 Pears, ripe but not too ripe, preferably Bartlett
1 t butter
½ cup pecans halves, toasted briefly in oven
1 Head Boston Lettuce (butter lettuce)
1 Box Baby Arugula
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (preferably not French, for political reasons I don’t quite understand yet)
¼ cup olive oil
1 T Sherry Vinegar
1 t honey
½ t salt
Cut pears into six slices each. Fry in a very small amount of butter in a non-stick pan on medium heat until caramelized on both sides and softened. Let cool.
Wash lettuces and arrange nicely on a large, new, recyclable foil plate. I like to tear the Boston lettuce into large pieces and put around the perimeter, and pile the arugula in the centre.
Once pears are cooled, add them to plate, then the crumbled blue cheese and pecans.
Mix components of vinaigrette and bring separately in a new Tupperware container with a tight lid, ready to shake up and drizzle at the last moment.
This salad sends all the right messages.
First off, it’s lack of crumbled bacon suggests that I know the rules and out of respect for the hostess, intend to follow them.
Secondly, it is delicious and shows effort without being overly fussy. (Never outshine the hostess).
Thirdly… it will arrive nicely plated and the dressing, stored in a new Tupperware container I need not ever see again, ensures that my dish needs absolutely no further work in their kosher kitchen… minimizing my chances of messing anything up. Using the wrong serving plate, for example. That would be bad. It could result in a dish having to be buried in the back yard for 10 years, which could be embarassing. Hence my choice of a new, recyclable foil plate… which again, shows the kind of respect for their way of life that will guarantee future dinner invitations for years to come.