Kosher Isn’t Just for Real Animals Anymore

Toothsome: A Manticore, or man-eater, on the prowl.
JOHN COULTHART
Toothsome: A Manticore, or man-eater, on the prowl.

By Dan Friedman

Published December 23, 2009, issue of January 01, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

For dungeon masters who have conquered real-world kashrut “The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals: The Evil Monkey Dialogues,” coming in early 2010 from Tachyon Publications, explores the possibilities of koshering fictional and fantastical creatures. Examining animals from a variety of world mythologies, married co-authors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer consider the unnatural history and edible properties of 34 potentially edible beasts (from the Abumi-Guchi to the Ziz).

Each entry describes the animal’s appearance: “According to Enoch, the Phoenix has the head of a crocodile and the feet of a lion.” Or, its origins and characteristics: “Taken from Brazilian folklore, the headless mule is a fire-spewing spectral quadruped with no head.” And then, as per the subtitle, each entry has a short, combative dialogue between the authors about whether Jews would be within their dietary rights to eat the said entry. The two writers — respected editors and authors of science fiction and fantasy books — adopt their characters: Evil Monkey, Jeff, wishes to eat everything; Ann represents the dietary superego.

Ann: No! And don’t even start. Because the mule itself, even if it weren’t fire-breathing, isn’t kosher. The fire doesn’t cleanse it.

Evil Monkey: But it’s self-cooking!

The criticism that there aren’t enough recipes in this book is mitigated by drafting in Duff Goldman (star of the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes”) to discuss the pros and cons of cooking Tribbles, testicles, Mongolian Death Worms and Wookiees. Although his bona fides as an authority on kashrut are in question (“Anything that’s served in a Chinese restaurant is kosher, even pork”), his culinary suggestions are delicious: “If you’re going to eat an angel, I’d eat a cherub…. Cherubs are the veal of the angelic world.”

Of course, once we colonize distant planets, these sorts of conversations will no longer be flights of fancy, but instead will be undertaken in earnest. Will Alpha Centauri Cucumber Fish be kosher? Will Betelgeuse Chicken Beetles be fleyshik (meat)? Until then, the VanderMeers’ discussions will remain dragon’s tongue in jackalope cheek.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.