Friday, December 31, 2010

On Chinese Food, Kahlua, and Camels

A lot happened in the year zero, most notable of which was that a Palestinian Jew named Brian Cohen Jesus was born, given a brit mila, had supper, and died*. Romans, Camels, and Leonardo da Vinci figure prominently in this story, which is odd only because da Vinci was Italian and neither Romans nor Italians rode camels.

2011 years later, the rest of the Jews somehow ended up in New York having picked up a Chinese food habit that manifests primarily on the evening of the 24th of December and on which, for reasons known only to one of my old professors (PDF warning), kashrut has no bearing at all.

Needless to say, not all Jews go Kung Po around this time of year. That tends to be the domain of our less affiliated tribesmen, to whom ancient Jewish traditions like Jackie Mason, "kosher-style" Passover seders, and Reuben sandwiches are as venerable today as ever. Nevermind that there's cream in the chicken soup. It's just like what Bubbe would be cooking up... if she weren't rolling over in her grave at the very idea.

In the interest of full disclosure, of course, it must be noted that while Chinese on Christmas tends to be a non-kosher affair, the more affiliated of us simply eat [kosher] Chinese food all year 'round. We do this to make up for lost time.

However, to the best of my knowledge, all of which I garner from the New York Times**, all Jews go to the movies on Christmas. We also celebrate the greatest secular holiday of all -- the after Christmas sale -- and celebrate New Year's as well, with two caveats:

First, we grumble about how it's a Christian holiday by virtue of being the day on which Jackie Mason Brian Jesus was circumcised, even though he was circumcised precisely because he was Jewish and, in any case, the day holds no religious significance for... well... anyone; and

Second, we no longer drink Kahlua because it is no longer kosher, or at least we're not sure that it is, or anyway some of the bottles are marked but the ones we used to get aren't and we're concerned that they may have figured out a way to incorporate octopus legs into the production process just to screw with our White Russians.

As if things couldn't get any worse, New Year's Eve falls on Friday night this year, which means no Carson Daly, no dropping balls, no drunken revelers unless you either live near Times Square or have Shabbat dinner at Chabad.

But somehow it works -- we're wishing for a peaceful new year, and we're gonna kick it off with a day of rest whether we like it or not.

And you know what? We like it.

Happy 5771.3!


*The obvious conclusion that it was a bad case of food poisoning and/or a complication of the brit is, unfortunately, contradicted by the Pope and as such is wrong.

**Perish the thought. I get the Journal.

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