Christmas Eve: When the Chosen People Choose Hot and Sour Soup

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This year is 5773 according to the Jewish calendar, but Chinese history only dates back to 4707.
It makes you wonder what the Jews were eating for that first thousand years.

The streets are empty, the storefronts are shuttered, and everyone else they know is in church or sitting down to a holiday meal.
Chinese food for Christmas makes perfect sense.

Jews have a well-known affinity for Chinese food. While it’s impossible to pinpoint the moment when the first Jewish immigrant put down his borscht and picked up an egg roll, in the early 20th century, the tradition fanned out from its Lower East Side New York beginnings and took hold in urban immigrant enclaves around the country. Chinatowns sprouted everywhere the Jews went— Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto; Chinese restaurants were always close by, inexpensive, and stayed open on Sundays and holidays.

But is it kosher?
A lot of Jews grew up with the notion of Chinese food as ‘safe traif.’ Sure, there’s pork and shellfish in there, but it’s hidden in a tangle of wonton wrappers and mu shu vegetables. Don’t look too deeply—at the plate or into your secular Jewish heart— and it’s easy to ignore. And since nearly all Chinese food is dairy-free, there’s a free pass on the prohibition against mixing milk and meat .

The love goes both ways.
Yes, there are Chinese people who like Jewish food, but they complain that they’re hungry again in two weeks.

 

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