What has a place in your refrigerator ONLY because your family is Jewish?

December 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

A blog post by curator Karen Falk.

The other day I was digging around in the back of the fridge, and I came across my years-old bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine. I’d kind of lost track of it. And the thought suddenly occurred to me: this—along with our much younger bottle of Kedem grape juice—is an item that imparts a clear identity to our kitchen and our home. It is something we keep around only because we are kosher-keeping Jews.

A bottle of manischewitz, concord grape

I don’t particularly like grape juice. Neither does my husband. The kids don’t live at home anymore, so we don’t have it around for them. We drink it only for Kiddush, before dinner on Friday night or lunch on Saturday, and we pour a cupful for the Saturday evening havdalah ceremony. One bottle can last for months, doled out a cup at a time, kept on hand for guests (most often children) who don’t drink wine.

kedem brand grape juice, 4-pack

The same is true of the Manischewitz wine, with one difference—somewhere along the line, the distinctive taste of Concord grape wine became, for me, a natural accompaniment to our Shabbos dinner menu, and I have to admit, I kind of like it. It started years ago, before our kids were born, before it was easy to find really good kosher wines. We always had pretty much the same menu on Friday night: baked chicken seasoned with ground time and sage, baked potato, broccoli and tossed salad, and challah. After a while, my brain just began to connect the smells of the baked chicken and fresh challah with the taste of the sweet wine.

I admit this with some sheepishness. Manischewitz Concord Grape is not considered a sophisticated taste. (That seemed like such an obvious observation, I almost didn’t write it here; then I considered the remote possibility of readers who didn’t know this and typed the sentence.) We long ago learned to vary our Friday night menu, and eagerly embraced fine kosher wines as they became available, first from California, followed quickly by those from Italy, France, and now from all over the world, including Israel. Today, we’ll open a bottle of Teal Lake Shiraz from Australia to accompany a spicy stew, or a cool chardonnay to go with our grilled salmon.

But sometimes, when it’s just my husband and me at the table, and we don’t feel like killing a bottle of wine between the two of us, we’ll recite Kiddush over the Manischewitz and I’ll savor the memory of those early years of our marriage, before kids, when we were so young and clueless.

Interior of Karen Falk's fridge

Karen's fridge, in all its glory!

Tell us—what is in your refrigerator only because of who you are? Post a portrait of your fridge on our Flikr group!

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Calling for all things “Jewish food-ish”! What’s a “Refrigerator Portrait?”

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