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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • 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.