Notes on food—I’ve been eating really well, I think. But brother, is there a lot of meat in general and pork in particular here. The quantity of meat is a bit hard to take—I’m just not used to meat with every meal. And no beans at all. Virtually all protein is animal; being a vegan here would be very, very difficult. Unlike Deborah, I’m maintaining my level of kashrut, minimal though it might be. Somehow my hosts got the idea that the only problem was pork. So Ilka was very worried that I might not have enough to eat or that I might somehow slip and it would be her fault. Miriam was less worried, but certainly conscious. Neither was really aware that milk and meat together were are a far more common problem. It doesn’t bother me—I’m just used to dealing with it (in fact, I hadn’t realized how I simply do it) and what other people eat doesn’t concern me in the least. But it was clear that my hosts were trying to understand this weird practice (good luck to them is what I say!). On the one hand, I think they thought I would be offended if they ate pork, as if I might think eating it at all was a bad thing. It isn’t, of course; it’s simply part of Jewish practice. I might find a Jew eating pork offensive, particularly if done in such a way as to disrespect other Jews (or, as a Reform Jew, might not—it is a matter of choice), but I don’t give a damn how, what, or where other people eat. On the other hand, I think they thought this practice was unnecessarily weird and troublesome for them because as hosts they had to and wanted to accommodate me, but didn’t really understand how to.
And much of this is guessing on my part—everyone trying to be polite to everyone else, so I couldn’t address what I guessed were questions because they were being polite by not asking and I was being polite by not noticing their discomfort. (And I could be wrong, of course, perhaps the discomfort was all my imagination!) After services on Friday night, I had long talk with Ingrid about kashrut and gave her a detailed description of what and where kashrut comes from and how the easiest way to understand it is as a discipline. She got that—and we discussed how people gain strength from the ability to say no consistently.
The next day, walking with a bunch of Jews from synagogue, they talked about how much the Germans like their pork and how hard it is to eat. One of them, from the Netherlands, said that it’s worse there—bread is all made with pig fat. So she bakes her own.