Southern Shabbat Dinner: What, No Shrimp?

imagesDelish post today on the Forward’s The Jew and the Carrot about NYC’s City Grit, a culinary salon that hosted a four-course Shabbat meal last week. But questions remain.

First of all, what the hosanna is a culinary salon? Can I get my toes done there while noshing? Sounds awfully lofty to be taking on the Southern Shabbos meal.

I’m not denying the fabulosity of beet puree and benne seeds (really, the only truly Southern ingredient, as there is no such f*cking thing as “rice grits”. Grits are made of corn. Period.) I have no problem AT ALL with leeks, morels or heirloom tomatoes, even in my cereal. I am all about adventures of the palate. I would eat a locust if someone else cooked it. I get all up in Leoci’s Rasperry Jalapeno Jam with some duck prosciutto and have a freakin’ gastronomic party any chance I get.

But messin’ with the Shabbos meal? I dunno. I dig the innovation behind Chef Sarah Simmons’ deconstructed brisket, but also it just made me nervous. Shouldn’t be something sacred about the Shabbat meal, something as unvarying and solid as the tradition itself? What’s next, shrimp couscous? A roasted pig wearing a yarmulke?

It’s not about the kosher. ‘Cause y’all know trayf happens plenty around here.┬áBut we Jewish Southerners (oh dear, Lawd. Did Ah just call mahself a suthenah?!) don’t like to mess with a good thing.

Shabbos at the Yenta home almost always consists of roast chicken, quinoa and kale from the garden. Sometimes we get meshuggah and have salmon. It is the way it has always been. It is the way it should always be.

Unless someone opens a culinary salon and serves up that tasty-sounding latke-chocolate mousse dessert.

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