August 9, 2007
Gourmet kosher brings out fear factor
'Bugs are gross'
(Page 2 - Previous Page)While the Aris and the OU are ready to serve up giraffe, we didn't get any at The Prime Grill, because a giraffe costs about $25,000.
So we settled for Murray the Yak. Murray was served very pink, with spicy Asian sauce and snow peas, and was pleasantly firm but mostly flavorless. I preferred the elk, which was tender and intensely earthy.
To my relief, we got appetizer-sized portions of everything, from the crispy pigeon to the blue marlin (a fish still listed on a widely publicized nonkosher fish registry, due to its similarities to the swordfish). There was a lot of food, but it was delicate and civilized.
And another thing to make critics think twice: Through the meal, the presentation included slides of animals such as the unsuspecting elk wallowing in a watering hole, mud dripping from its scruffy beard, antlers held regally above the grassy plain behind it.
Getting intimate with the animal I was about to digest wasn't something I was used to. It's easy to distance yourself from what you're cooking when chicken comes skinned and deboned, cushioned in foam and wrapped in cellophane. It's harder to do that when, as you are eating fleishig (meat) eggs, you see a slide of a sliced-open chicken with unlaid eggs still covered in a web of blood vessels (that's what makes them meat rather than pareve).
But that kosher "Fear Factor" moment passed, and as it turns out, I didn't have to worry about the locusts. We did see some really icky pictures of locust swarms in Israel, both from 1959 and 2004. After the last swarm, the Aris took samples to North African rabbis who had seen and eaten those very same locusts before.
But the OU wasn't ready to certify to locusts, since only very specific kinds of locusts are kosher.
So, after the etrog and pomegranate cake was served, a plate was laid before me with a brilliant slice of magenta sabra fruit and two chocolate locusts. They were solid chocolate -- no exoskeletons or wings inside -- made from molds fashioned in Greenspan's dental office.
As I bit off the head and then the wings from my chocolate locust, I imagined a huge grasshopper stuck in the pink goop they use to make dental impressions.
Now that's an image that finally grossed me out.
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