As I wandered the aisles of my grocery store this weekend in search of Kosher for Passover products, it reminded me of my old roommate. Not that we bonded over our dislike of matzah or love for chocolate jelly rings, more than, during our tenure of living together, our apartment went from not kosher to kosher to non kosher in less than a day.
When I started my first job out of college, my roommate began law school. We had different schedules and priorities. On the weekends when I wanted to hang out, she insisted upon library-like quiet hours in the apartment. So, we lived in silence except for the occasional pork lo mein and spare ribs from our favorite Chinese take-out place a few blocks away.
One night in the middle of shrimp fried rice, my roommate announced she wanted to keep kosher in the apartment. I wondered what had sparked this sudden interest after more than two decades of bacon double cheese burgers. Perhaps it was some cute boy she had met in law school? Ever the roommate pleaser, I obliged her request without protest.
We consulted with the local Rabbi who ensured the kitchen was kashered properly. Adding two new sets of dishes and silverware for milk and meat, we divided the refrigerator in half to organize the final frontier of newly acquired dietary restrictions. I asked my roommate if we could make our first Kosher dinner together to celebrate. She agreed, and we went to the grocery store.
On the meat aisle, she went directly for the chicken. Except, it wasn’t from the Kosher section, it was regular Perdue chicken. I reached for the Empire Kosher chicken, and handed it to her. “We have to buy Kosher chicken,” I said to her. “But, it’s so much more expensive,” she responded. “Well, in order to be kosher, it has to be prepared in a certain way,” I reiterated to her what the Rabbi had told us and what we learned in Hebrew School years ago.
She looked at the substantial price difference, and told me, “Well I guess it’s okay to use regular meat as long as we don’t mix milk and meat together.” “What?” I asked, baffled at her rationale. After all, I had just invested in a second set of dishes in order to accommodate her. We returned home with the regular meat, but kept milk and meat separate. I decided to let my roommate’s translation of kosher be what she wanted it to be. She continued to buy non kosher meat, and I’m sure she still ordered shrimp fried rice, but we never ordered it together ever again.