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Artichoke is the New Shrimp

The precedent

July 11, 1883, is one of most disastrous, non-violent days in recent Jewish memory: the date of the infamous Trefa Banquet.

During the graduation celebration for the first class to attend Hebrew Union College, dishes were served featuring shrimp, crab, and meat alongside ice cream! It is still unclear to this day if it was a caterer’s mistake, or done intentionally. Whatever happened, it was followed by the Head of the College, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, skipping apologies entirely, and eating the forbidden food under the eyes of hundreds of speechless guests. Since that momentous event, many who identity with Reform Judaism are inclined to eat shrimp and other non-kosher shellfish, differentiating them from Orthodox and Conservative communities.

In sum, this sole dinner helped launch the first true schism in modern Jewish history.

The current crisis

Why am I talking about this banquet more than a century later? Because another, although smaller, culinary and cultural schism may be on the horizon.

This time, the bone of contention is a dish very close to my heart (and mouth): the carciofo alla giudia, better known as the Roman artichoke (AKA: a deep fried artichoke). This succulent dish is the pride of the Rome’s Jewish community, and has been one of its most important symbols for centuries. This year, just a few days before the beginning of Passover, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate declared the artichoke to be non-kosher after receiving a package of Roman artichokes full of worms. The Israeli rabbinate stated that the artichoke is not safe to eat since worms can be hidden on the inside of the vegetable, rendering it non-kosher.

The reactions

As you can imagine, the reaction of the Italian Jewish community was at first of incredulity, followed thereafter by a rebellion that has caused a break within the community itself.

The Jews of Rome stayed faithful to their beloved dish and, led by their Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, continued to offer fried artichoke in the ghetto’s restaurants. To emphasize the point,Rabbi Di Segni wished everybody a “Happy Passover” in a video during which he peeled artichokes in front of a synagogue. The Jewish community of Milan, however, has instead decided to follow the decision of the Israeli rabbinate, and removed the dish from its Jewish restaurants.

The solution(s)

As my grandma says, “for each problem there is a solution.” When applied to the Jewish world, this saying becomes, “for each problem, there are several different solutions.”

Milan’s answer: The Jews of Milan are reinventing the dish and making it 100% kosher by cutting it up and cleaning the vegetable before frying it. The artichoke is now re-composed directly on the plate.

Rome’s answer: The Jews of Rome followed their own Chief Rabbi and continue to eat the artichoke according to their tradition. After all, as Mr. Pavoncello (owner of Nonna Betta, one of the Roman ghetto’s Jewish restaurants) said, “There is no pope [in Judaism]”. He explained that each community can make its own decision about which fruits and vegetables are proper to eat.

Naples’ answer: Rabbi Umberto Piperno, chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Naples, is trying to create and patent an ultrasound, flying-bug repellent which could tell with a 100% certainty if there are worms/bugs inside the artichokes without needing to open them.

My personal answer: Since my personal kashrut rules are limited to not eating pork or bringing shellfish home (mostly to avoid the complaints of my husband, who keeps kosher), the artichoke issue is not a problem. However, this debate continues to feel very personal to me because it involves the Italian Jewish community of which I am a part. I try to eat at least one Jewish artichoke every time I go to Rome. Last time, during a nasty NYC-snowstorm-induced layover, I had the signature dish in Rome’s airport as part of my wedding anniversary celebration!

After reading all about the controversy around this dish, I started to crave some good, deep fried artichokes myself. So, I decided to try the two DC restaurants that I knew were serving the delicacy: Etto and Lupo Verde.

Lupo Verde, which is designed to serve typical Roman food, was the uncontested winner! Their fried artichokes were so delicious that they made me almost feel like I was home.

If this article triggered your own fried artichoke craving, here are some recipes you can try out at home. Bete’avon!

Fried Artichoke from The New York Times

Jewish Style Fried Artichokes from My Jewish Learning

[Video] Artichokes Jewish-style, Italian recipe

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group.

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Your Guide to DC’s Hottest New Restaurant – Wawa

You heard it here first. The hottest, most in-demand, high quality restaurant has recently opened its shining metal doors to DC’s public.

It’s fast, yet doesn’t feel rushed.

It’s casual, yet sophisticated.

It’s delicious, and boasts $1 coffee.

You’re probably thinking, what glorious eatery could encompass everything you could ever want in a food establishment? Founding Farmers? Nope. Cava? Guess again. McDonalds? No. But, they do make a mean hashbrown.

The answer, my coffee-drinking, sandwich-eating, snack-loving friends, is simple, and just four letters long (the same number of letters in the word love). Wawa.

For all of you snarkily scoffing at your computer, thinking how ridiculous it is that I have the audacity to compare Wawa to DC institutions like Le Diplomate and The Hamilton, you clearly haven’t been to the newest, biggest Wawa in the country (you read that right). Or, maybe they were just out of Hot Cheetos that day.

Well, lucky for you,I’m here to help you make the most of your visit and understand the best way to navigate Wawa’s magic. This is your exclusive must-see, must-have, must-eat guide to DC’s newest, hottest restaurant – Wawa.

1. The beverages. Wawa literally has the best water. And it’s FREE. Make sure you get the 44 oz size, because hydration, and also – it is the most delicious tasting water ever. You may think I’m exaggerating, but ask Jackie (my boss), and she’ll vouch for me. Jackie – feel free to comment below. If the best water in the world isn’t enough for you (sorry, Fiji), Wawa also has $1 coffee every day. Every. Single. Day.

2. The food. Not only is Wawa living in 2055 with their touch screen ordering system, but they also have every type of food you can think of (besides, like sushi – it is still a convenience store people). Seriously, any type of food you could find yourself wanting, I guarantee Wawa has it or something like it. They even have salads and vegetables, for all you wacky health nuts.  My personal favorites are the mac and cheese, meatballs, mashed potatoes, pretzels, pre-made sandwiches, make-your-own sandwiches, smoothies, and if I’m feeling really crazy, the hot dogs – basically anything besides the salads.

3. The staff. Not only is their food phenomenal, in addition to the water, but the staff also couldn’t be nicer. The first time I went there, the staff literally said “Wa-Welcome!” I mean…. I rest my case.

If all of this hasn’t convinced you that Wawa is not only DC’s newest hot-spot, but also the best place on the planet, I’ve compiled a series of testimonials from fellow Wawa enthusiasts that will hopefully convince you of Wawa’s magic.

“Oh my gosh…where do I even start? I don’t think words can fully express everything that Wawa is and has to offer. Hold on, I need a moment.”  – Julie, 25, Clarksville MD

“I love Wawa because they make great sandwiches, Mac and cheese, and coffee while offering a ton of selection for food and drink at convenient locations for an affordable price.” – Andrew, 24, Bucks County PA

“I love Wawa because their food is always amazing quality and no other place has as large of a selection!” – Halle, 23, Cherry Hill NJ

“I love Wawa because it’s convenient, high quality, and affordable and meets my needs for everything from a quick coffee run to a full meal. It’s much higher quality in terms of service and product then comparable convenience stores and, let’s be real, the branding is on point.” – Ben, 24, Moorestown NJ

I like to think that if Leslie Knope grew up in Southern New Jersey or Pennsylvania she’d be Wawa’s biggest fan. Wawa….Wa-ffles…it fits right in. If that doesn’t convince you…I really don’t know what will.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your co-workers, take your dog for a walk, gather your closest friends, and check out the best new restaurant in the District. You’re Wa-Welcome.

Oh, and also, there’s FREE coffee at Wawa tomorrow – Thursday, April 12. Yes, free. Meaning you can slurp up all the caffeine you could dream of, while saving your change for a bag full of Hot Cheetos.

 

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, this blog post was NOT sponsored by Wawa. Although, Wawa – if you’re reading this – I am on Instagram, and would gladly be your go-to social media hype woman (I mean, if you’re looking).

 

About the Author: Rachel Nieves

As GatherDC’s New-to-DC Community Coordinator, Rachel helps connect those new or new(ish) to Jewish DC. After graduating from the University of Maryland in 2016, she has been on the hunt for ways to better engage with the DC Jewish community. She loves meeting new people, and connecting them with each other to build thriving friendships. When she’s not in the GatherDC office or grabbing coffee with community members, you can find her dancing (more like flailing) to the nearest live cover band, admiring dogs that aren’t hers in Meridian Hill Park, watching reality television, and laughing with her friends. Reach out to Rachel to grab a $1 Wawa coffee.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Jourdi: Jewish Food-Instagramer of the Week

Food lovers rejoice! The amazing human behind @District_Foodie is ready to set down her plate, set aside her iPhone, and chat with a big fan (me) about her successful Instagram account, favorite Jewish foods, and why Bruce Springsteen holds a special place in her heart. Dig into this exclusive interview with Jourdi Tobias, AKA: @District_Foodie! WARNING: Food cravings may ensue – so, we encourage you to #treatyoself to a Valentine’s Day goody while reading.

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jourdi: I went to University of Maryland – go Terps! And I got a job here after school, am from the area and have always loved it, so I wound up staying.

Allie: What do you love most about living in DC?

Jourdi: I love that it feels like a city, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. It’s been easy to find great friends and feel a part of the community, and I also really enjoy the food scene here.

Allie: So I hear you run a popular food Instagram account…..

Jourdi: Yes! One night, my friends and I were in New York and trying to figure out where to go out to eat. They were all looking at photos on Instagram to decide where to go. As someone who has always been passionate about trying new foods, and loves going out to eat, I realized that I wanted to be that person in DC who helped others figure out where and what to eat. So, I started a food Instagram account, District Foodie.

I was going out to eat and taking photos of the food anyway, so the account happened pretty naturally. The more I kept posting, the more popular the page started to be. Today, we have 15,000 followers! I think it’s been so successful because it’s food I actually try, and restaurants I go to and love, so everything is real!

Allie: Top 3 favorite DC restaurants?

Jourdi: Little Cocos – a really delicious Italian restaurant in Columbia Heights; Rasika – incredible Indian food; and Red Hen – also amazing Italian food.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Jourdi: Shawarma! I’d love a shawarma platter with everything – hummus, pickled onions, tzatzi, banana peppers, spicy peppers, and a pita on the side. I also am a big fan of potato latkes.

Allie: If you had a free day in DC to do ANYTHING you wanted, how would you spend it?

Jourdi: I’d start the day at a fun all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink brunch place, like AmBar in Eastern Market. Then, I’d walk around Eastern Market for a bit. After that, I’d head down to the National Mall and walk around the monuments. Even though I’ve lived in the DC area for most of my life, I still feel like a tourist every time I go see the monuments. I also would love to go to the Botanical Gardens because I love flowers. I’d unwind from the day with a nice dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant like Pineapple and Pearls, which I’ve never been to.

Allie: Any surprising facts about yourself you’d like to share?

Jourdi: My mom went into labor with me at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jourdi: There should be food and drinks!

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

JUDITH VS. DONUTS: The DC Donut Taste-Test

8 Days of Hanukkah means the PERFECT excuse to take advantage of eight chances to indulge in some of the best, most delectable, most fried, most well frosted, most heavily sprinkled, most — ugh, we’re getting so hungry right now — donuts throughout DC. This week, we highly encourage you to go have fun tasting the best donuts across the city as you explore new neighborhoods, surprise your friends with exciting flavors (sweet and savory), and get in as much fried food as possible before the New Year!

We did some preliminary “research” to help steer you to the tastiest treats, and away from those not worth the calories — we took a few caloric hits for the team. Use our highly scientific Donut Deliciousness Meter (out of 4 ✡) to decipher which donuts are worth the splurge. You’re welcome!

Dunkin’ Donuts

While these donuts are great for a cheap office treat, looks are very much deceiving as we encountered tasty looking but…we hate to say it…stale donuts! We tried both a classic glazed (very dry) and an apple-filled (more like one bite of filling in the corner of a very dry donut), throwing out both donuts after one bite. 🙁 But, we did pick these donuts up in the afternoon, so perhaps they are best enjoyed with your morning Dunkin’ coffee run.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡

B. Doughnut

Due to the overwhelming popularity of these particular fried and frosted circles, we were unable to quench our B.Doughnut taste buds. These donuts sold out by 11am! (DC donut lovers – we’re impressed.) Although I cannot speak from personal experience, we’ve heard these are definitely ones to have on your list…along with an alarm clock set for sunrise. Using a Hawaiian style Malasada recipe instead of the traditional fried fritter (making for an eggy, yeast dough), these doughnuts are filled with pastry crème or cream cheese. With a pop-up shop at Union Market, you can swing by on the weekend and grab a LOX bagel doughnut! Yes, that is a real thing.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: Too late to tell!

202 Donuts

You can find these handmade donuts at Bold Bite in Downtown DC. While deceptively small, these donuts pack a punch of flavor – and were one of our favorite bites of all! The donut itself has a strong yeast flavor and isn’t very sweet, which actually pairs miraculously well with the sugary toppings and fillings. Go for the Dulce de Leche for a creamy caramel treat or the Samoa if you’re missing your favorite Girl Scout cookie.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡✡✡✡

District Doughnut

With drool-worthy flavors like Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, Brown Butter, and Cannoli, this local donut shop (started in Union Kitchen) spreads happiness through its mouthwatering, handcrafted donuts in a wide variety of flavors. They have a special strawberry jam filled Sufganiyot for Hanukkah, and are one of the few places that serve cake donuts in addition to the classic yeasted variety.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡✡✡

Image courtesy of Astro Doughnuts,  Scott Suchman

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

Founded by two Jews who met while playing hockey (they were the first native Washingtonians to play for the Capitals), this donut shop fries up sweet treats AND crispy chicken! Combining their two childhood comfort foods, Jeff Halpern and Elliot Spaisman brought the very first chicken and donut sandwich to DC. You can get classic donuts with or without the chicken, or a special box of sufganiyot donuts for Hanukkah (traditional jelly-filled, crème brulee topped with gelt, and Hanukkah cookie!). These flavors will be available from 12/12 – 12/20/17, so stop by this week to give ‘em a try!

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡✡✡✡

Honorable Mentions:

Shake Shack, Donuts Are Forever Concrete: Milkshake heaven made of Astro Doughnut’s coconut flavored doughnut, Vanilla custard, strawberry jam, and rainbow sprinkles.

Munch Ice Cream Donut Sandwich

Chocolate Frosted Entenmann’s Donut

 

 

About the Author: Judith  Rontal  is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! Judith hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, even if that was at 10 pm. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her blog, Aluminum Foiled Kitchen, and in her daily life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations. When not in the kitchen working on a new recipe to serve at her next dinner party, you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the Rock Creek Park trails. Follow her food adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.