Writing for the Jewish Daily Forward, Steven Davidson, a secular Jew who had negative preconceptions about Kosher cuisine, describes his and his brother’s amazing experiance at last week’s ‘Taste of Crown Heights’ kosher food crawl.
From The Forward by Steven Davidson:
There are some places you’ll almost never find a secular Jew at. Shabbat services. A Richard Spencer rally. NASCAR. The Orthodox section of Crown Heights? Oh, most certainly not. What’s there to like — Chabadniks recruiting you to the yeshivah? A constant sense of aesthetic displacement? Food that way too closely resembles your great-grandmother’s chopped liver?
When it comes to food in Crown Heights, it turns out there’s a lot more to like than your bubbe’s chopped liver.
This weekend, I attended “A Taste of Crown Heights,” Crown Heights’ inaugural kosher food crawl, and confronted my negative perceptions and taste buds head-on. As if to stack the cards even further against the local eateries, I recruited the only other Jew I knew to be the grandson of a kosher butcher, yet remain even less inclined to gorge on “Jew food” — my brother, Justin.
On Sunday, we emerged from the Kingston Avenue subway to find ourselves in a brave new world. As far as the eye can see, we were in the only men without tzitzit and a firm grasp of kashrut laws. Chabadniks swarming to give us tefillin? Check (three times); one guy easily called my bluff when I tried to ward him off by claiming I had “a little tefillin” earlier that day.
But whether it was the plan of Hashem or two davening schmos (or both), divine gastronomic miracles had come to be. Crown Heights’ kosher food crawl was organized by Shmuly Wolff, the co-founder and CEO of JMenu, an emerging app that seeks to become the GrubHub of the kosher world, and J.J. Hecht, the director of Toys For Hospitalized Children. Born and raised in the neighborhood, the pair saw the local food scene “explode” in recent years, and they felt a burning desire to show it off to the kosher world. “When I was a kid, there was one pizza shop, a burger shop, and a cafe,” said Wolff. “Now, we have 20 vendors [participating in the crawl] and we haven’t even included everyone.”