I’ve written in the past about growing up Jew-ish and how Judaism is not just a religion, and it isn’t a race, it’s a culture. Now despite how I will protest a million times over about how you can’t look Jewish—there definitely is a stereotypical “Jewish” look; it’s wrong but it does exist. Unfortunately it is a stereotype that even Jews perpetuate. I look like the classic shiksa; blonde hair, blue eyes and a nose that doesn’t resemble a bird beak all seem to invalidate my Jew card at times. It is frustrating to hear people say “but you don’t look Jewish” to me but it’s ten times worse when it’s another Jew who does it. (I think this happens more with Jews than in the geek world even) One guy in college, who knew me for four years, saw me at Hillel, knew I dated a boy in the Jewish frat and was in the Jewish sorority, still turned to me one day in shock and said it. And frankly I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve got the standard western idealized look—so I get considered to be like an ideal version of physical assimilation. But there are so many people who don’t look “Jewish”—and who have probably gotten shit for it worse than I ever did. There are a number of Jewish stereotypes. Jews are greedy. Jews are in control of all the money. Jewish boys are whiny. Jewish girls are demanding and spoiled. Jews are smart. Jews are all doctors or lawyers or rabbis. Jews are survivors. I think that one stereotype is the reason why I found myself connected so strongly to this culture. True my mom never kept me from it, but like I said in the past, we were a fairly Jewish household. We didn’t really go to temple and when it came to religion I was more likely to call myself atheist (or for a year I’d probably say wiccan) than Jewish. But the cultural pull was there and knowing that I came from people who could survive some of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century, well I think it helped me when I faced my own struggles in life. I knew that if people I came from could survive things that should only ever have been imagined in fictional horror stories, I could get through middle school. Right? But then there are all those jokes, all the jabs, all the misunderstandings about Judaism. I think sometimes I actually hear more of them when people find out I am Jewish. Like now they can make jokes about it and nudge nudge, I won’t mind because I “pass” and can laugh at it. I’m not sure if that makes any sense but that’s how it feels. For example I don’t usually hear jokes about Jews being cheap until AFTER someone finds out I’m Jewish. Then suddenly any time I find a way to cut costs I’m being a good Jew—eh, eh? I wonder if other people who “pass” have experienced this. Do you find yourself hearing more or fewer jokes about your culture when people know you belong? Does shattering their stereotypes work out favorably or just cause awkward pauses? Is it worse when it’s “outsiders” who find out you are part of a culture they don’t know or understand or is it worse when people who you should share a bond with find you odd too? One stereotype, definitely true in this case, is that Jewish food is pretty heavy. Oh man is it ever. I mean Kugel—potato or noodle—is full of dairy and eggs and fat and starch. That’s what makes it sooooo good. I’m a girl who likes to flip expectations and stereotypes on their heads. Enter my super stealthy, healthy kugel. It’s high in protein, surprisingly light and while it’s not carb free, it avoids relying on empty white starches. It’s also vegan—but since it uses soy and fava bean flour it’s not going to be kosher for Passover in some homes. I whipped it up and took it into work and while almost no one knew what the frak a kugel was—let me tell you having to explain it for the sixth time made me regret not just calling the damn thing a casserole—but everyone who tried it took seconds. Or thirds. Hell some people were eating it out of the pan.
Stealthy Healthy Kugel Read more