Friday, June 10, 2011

Hurray for Fleishigs

There was something wildly gleeful last night about staring into the freezer at the choices of meat. Yes, meat. I don't normally rhapsodize about chickens but today is just a tad different. Last time we saw fleishigs in my house was Monday night and everyone is missing it. Please don't get me wrong--we happen to love milchigs in my house for the most part. And it's not like I just kept serving the same meal over and over again over yom tov. But I definitely have some meat and potato guys living here (and yes, a few gals also) and the thrill of cheesecake and trifle and fish in its many guises is wearing a little thin. (You know that you have milchigs overload when, in watching the birds feeding in the backyard, the conversation turns to how quail is considered a delicacy in uppercrust Europe, and how would you raise those quail so that you could shecht them properly.)

I'm inhaling deeply and the smell of cholent bathes me in a mist of delight. I've decided that there is a life lesson in here somewhere--perhaps something about balance across a spectrum of choices. Forget the philosophy--I've a chicken to bake. Have a gutten Shabbos.


Abba's Rantings said...

your men's desire for fleisch could have been satisfied on shavuot. minhag ashkenaz (as codified by the rama) is to eat dairy followed by meat on the first day, and on the second day there is no imperative to eat dairy altogether.

JS said...

We only have daily on Shavuous and it's a welcome respite from the constancy of meat on every Shabbos and yom tov. And don't get me wrong, I'm a regular carnivore. But, I really enjoy certain dairy, pareve meals and if you try making them for Shabbos or other yom tovs, people look at you funny. And good luck inviting guests over for Shabbos and telling them you'll be serving dairy - or, worse yet, telling them to refrain from certain flieshig items at kiddush since you're serving dairy!

The antiquated notion of you can only enjoy Shabbos and yom tov with meat needs to be put to rest. Maybe way back in the day when meat was a true and rare treat given the work involved in getting meat and the impossibility of refrigeration that was true. But in today's day and age when you make a quick trip to the supermarket? Please.

Given klal's ever-expanding waistlines, maybe we should give this a second thought.

Chaim said...

"Given klal's ever-expanding waistlines, maybe we should give this a second thought."

Wow, you must be the only person who loses weight on a diet of Shavuos dairy food.

JS said...


Depends what you eat on Shavuous (or on Shabbos).

You have cheesecakes, donuts, quiches, pasta loaded with cheese, etc. yeah you're gonna gain a lot of weight most likely.

We had a lot of salad, fruits, a vegetarian stir-fry with brown rice, a veggie lasagna, fish, and the like. We also went for long walks both days and I'd note that I only saw a handful of Jews while we were out. Yeah, it was hot, but I don't see too many people out for walks on milder Shabboses either. Let's face it, we're a sedentary group that likes fatty, carb-loaded food.

I'll say the same for fleishigs as well. The standard fare is tons of red meat, loads of oily kugels, fried chicken/schnitzel, and a salad that is basically iceburg lettuce and a mayo dressing.

Chaim said...

My point is there's no intrinsic reason that meat vs dairy contributes to "klal's ever-expanding waistlines". As you said, it has more to do with portion control and carb-loaded food.

Ahuva said...

No one mentioned it yet so let me do it. Today, with the prices for fresh fish sky high and higher and cheeses and dairy products also super expensive, it's actually cheaper to serve meat. I got chicken at $1.00 a pound a week after Pesach and filled my freezer. I paid $1.99 for chicken cutlets. Fresh salmon for Shavuous? Wouldn't pay the prices--$9.00 a pound for farm raised and $19.50 a pound for wild locally. Flounder was $8.50 a pound and even the fairly junky fishes were $5-6 a pound. Now multiply those prices times 9-11 people per meal and you might see why fleishigs is what is popular in my house.

And JS, it's not always what you are eating but how much you are eating that causes the weight problem. Nothing at all wrong with including some baked goods and treats in the menu or pasta with different cheeses as long as the portion sizes are kept reasonable and the meals are balanced. So it's not just what is being eaten in what combinations but how much that causes the problems.

JS said...


Certainly. I didn't mean to imply I didn't have any cheesecake or other dairy desserts. If there's one thing I love, it's good cheesecake. But, I don't go crazy either. Like you said, portion control. Our shul had a kiddush first day with tons of dairy desserts and they were GONE and about half the shul wasn't even there due to the earlier minyan for those who stayed up all night.

Good, fresh fish is definitely expensive. And, it's likely to get more expensive as we overfish the oceans and more fish become mercury hazards. Chicken is definitely cheaper, no doubt. But, I don't think a lot of the red meat I see at meals is that much cheaper.

Regardless, my issue was health-related, not really price-related. There are ways to do healthy meals both dairy and fleishigs that don't break the bank.

To an earlier point though: why do you think it is that you can ONLY have meat on Shabbos or Yom Tov or people will look at you funny? I get surprised looks sometimes when I say we don't have any meat on Shavuous and that's just 2 days! If you made a dairy meal for Shabbos (and especially if you invited guests) people will likely think you're insane. I can't figure this out at all. Why is dairy so denigrated?

ProfK said...

Taking a quick coffee break and to see what's doing on the blog. Indeed a good question about the no milchigs on Shabbos that seems to be prevalent JS. I think part of that might come from the whole issue of what a seudas mitzvah should contain. Lots of those who "taitch" the posuk "bosor v'dagim v'chol ma'tamim" as meat and fish. Heard a well known and well regarded Rav speak many years ago and he said we are taitching the posuk wrong. It's not bosor v'dagim but should be read as bosor oo'dagim--meat OR fish. According to his taitch fish alone would be sufficient for a seudas mitzvah. Yes, the question then came up as to whether that would mean that fish as part of a dairy meal would satisfy the requirement for the three seudos on Shabbos. His feeling was that it would satisfy the requirement.

We don't eat straight fleishigs for the longer holidays. The lunch meals are generally milchigs. Just as you can get really tired of eating straight milchigs you can also get tired of eating straight fleishigs.

Also going to agree that it is not the foods served for a yom tov per se that are the problem but the portion sizes and the balance among the dishes at the meal. Carbs get a really bad rap but it should be for overeating them rather than eating them at all. There are pastas out there that are darned good for you, when eating in recommended portion sizes. Ditto items like potatoes and breads. But again, how are these items being prepared and in what size portions are they being eaten? And all cheeses are not the same as far as fat content goes.

Re the red meat seen at some meals as compared to fish prices, I bought some of that fresh fish for yom tov and I could have gotten a standing rib roast for cheaper, way cheaper. Even the extra lean ground hamburger is far cheaper than the cheap fish was. One reason why I haunt the fish markets--if I ever find a really good sale (and yes, rarely but there are some) I buy up pounds worth and freeze for future use.

One thing that does stand out when you discuss what we are eating, when and why, and that is that the things that are supposed to be really good for you are also really expensive, not just pricey but way up there. Just one example, other than the fish--red, yellow and orange peppers have some terrific nutritional value aside from tasting good. Cheapest I've seen them, in a vegetable market, was $3.99 a pound and $4.99 a pound is fairly routine. If you are really lucky two peppers will make up a pound. And then you have to throw away the stem and clean out the insides. Not much left after you do so. The same for a lot of the other healthy foods available.

Abba's Rantings said...

"red, yellow and orange peppers have some terrific nutritional value aside from tasting good. Cheapest I've seen them, in a vegetable market, was $3.99 a pound and $4.99 a pound is fairly routine"

that's crazy. unless you are referring to the perfectly blemishless peppers. otherwise they're generally under 2 bucks.

Miami Al said...

Our local super markets charge $3.99/lb for colored peppers. The fruit market I go to fluctuates between $1.49 and $1.99 depending on seasonality.

Good fresh fish is really expensive as fish stocks have declined.

Kosher consumers SHOULD have an easy time with weight control... the main "fats" in people's diets are cheeses and meats, and we don't combine them, gentiles do.

The amount of oil and sugar in every recipe from a Kosher cook book is nauseating. We stopped using them for much, but when we get invited out, I normally east a light snack before going to lunch to avoid eating a 2000 calorie lunch.

I assumed that your food is pretty tasteless in NY, given the cookbooks from there boil all the vegetables and coat them in fat and sugar. :)

JS said...

I wish I could remember the specific names of the varieties of peppers at my local supermarket, but they sell 2 types of peppers. One type of bell pepper is usually under $2-$2.50 per pound, and the other is around $3.50-$4.50 per pound. It's different varieties, not organic versus non-organic.

I think the biggest thing with kosher recipes and cookbooks is that they never got the message that margarine is really unhealthy (especially the sticks of margarine everyone seems to use which are hydrogenates oils full of trans fats). It's simply unbelievable how much margarine and other fats are in these recipes. What I couldn't believe is that all the dairy recipes I looked at for reference also had margarine! I just don't get why margarine is the default fat in kosher recipes.

ProfK said...

JS, the less expensive variety of peppers, at least the ones sold here, are not real bell peppers although people tend to call all peppers bell peppers. If you look at the red and green ones they are more elongated than round. In addition they have a thinner flesh than the true bell peppers. Thinner flesh equals less edible pepper per piece. Also, if you are stuffing those peppers, regardless of what with, they can't stand up straight because of their pointy ends. And because they aren't as thick walled they tend to come apart when baked.

Al, plenty of people in NY whose food is quite tasty perhaps because they don't use those kosher cookbooks. Long, long ago, when kosher cookbooks were scarcer than hen's teeth, most of us bought the best of the secular cookbooks and adapted the recipes for kashruth purposes. I still do that today. I don't need to spend double the money to get pretty pictures for dishes that are many of them nutritional disasters.

Re that margarine, long ago I did some research on how to substitute healthier oils for margarine and shortening--very simple to find the info online. I haven't purchased any shortening in so long I can't remember the decade I last did so. Also, some of the healthier for you whipped tub margarines (yes, there are a few, such as the smart balance light spread with omega-3, pareve)can be substituted for the stick margarine where margarine seems to be required.

Abba, I'd love to see those bell peppers for under $2 a pound, and also would love to see them not already so ripe that they spoil before you get them home. Haven't seen that price for a few years already.

Miami Al said...


Something I've been loving in modern cookbooks, there is no adaptation in the "healthy" cookbooks... sure you have to skip the scallop and shrimp recipes (though the sauces that are good with them are good with delicate fishes like snapper), but the move away from butter and cheese on the healthy side makes it much easier to work with.

We've also found that most things handle reductions or eliminations in oil without much trouble. We've been adapting our Challah Recipe to reduce calorie count 5%-10% every week.

Anonymous said...

No one would say hurray for Fleishigs if they spent some time seeing how factory farming and transport for slaughter is done. In the old days when meat for yom tov and shabbat was a treat and considered necessary, the chickens and cows were raised very differently than they are now. We also need to keep in mind the huge environmental costs of modern livestock raising. I'm not a vegetarian, but the guilt I get from eating chicken and beef certainly takes away from any enjoyment.

Tamar said...

Anonymous if you think that raising livestock is the biggest environmental problem think again. There is nothing--nothing!--that we humans have put into use that doesn't take a toll on the environment. Ever take anything to the cleaners? Stop enjoying those cleaned clothes because the fumes from the cleaning solvents are so not good for the environment. Drive a car? Take a bus or a train or a plane? Exhaust and fumes so much worse for the environment then raising livestock.

Sure, we should be coming up with some less toxic fixes for the things we use but to put it only on raising livestock is to focus on an itsy bitsy part. And putting enjoyment into it means that there is nothing that you can really enjoy because it's all bad for the environment.

Anonymous said...

Tamar: Sorry, my comment was poorly worded. The thrust was the needless suffering of sentinent creatures, not the environmental consequences. Yes, just about everything has environmental consequences. Some are harder to mitigate or avoid than others and you have to look at the extent of the environmental consequences. From what I've read, raising livestock has a huge environmental price, and there are good alternatives. Beans instead of meat in your cholent is an easy substitution. There are also a variety of dry cleaning solvents, some worse than others. You can also choose cotton shirts that can be laundered, rather than sik that needs to be dry cleaned.