Sunday, May 08, 2005

Chinese Kosher

A Slate review of a new exhibition about Chinese restaurants in America includes a paragraph about the large number of Kosher Chinese eateries:
One of my favorite parts of this exhibit is the wonderful collection of kosher Chinese menus from New York restaurants, sporting names like "Glatt Wok" and "Shang-chai," and serving dishes like Matzoh Foo Young. Lee speculates that East European Jews, themselves marginalized, flocked to Chinese restaurants as a way of forging a new, modern, identity—as a way of becoming American. Not that things "Chinese" were generally recognized as American; it took outsiders to see the obvious.
I've always wondered why such a large proportion of Kosher restaurants seem to be Chinese (more noticeable, perhaps, outside NY?) and was once offered another, more plausible explanation: that because there is a particularly high incidence of lactose-intolerance among people of Chinese descent, most of their food doesn't mix milk and meat and therefore is easier reproduced than many other cuisines.

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