Kosher foods are those that are allowed according to Levitical law (Leviticus 11) and prepared according to kashrut. Not only are certain foods prohibited, but how those foods are prepared either makes them kosher or not. Chinese food, Mexican food, or “good old all-American home-style family southern” food can all be prepared as kosher. Although the specific details of kashrut are extensive, the laws all originate from a few straightforward guidlines.
In restaurants, deli establishments, and grocery stores we often stumble across the “kosher” section right next to international foods. There is a significant misconception, though, about what is and is not kosher? What is kosher food? Is it merely Jewish food, another international cuisine, or is there more to it? Simply put, kosher food is food allowed by Levitical law and prepared in accordance with Jewish religious tradition.
“Kashrut” is the group of laws dealing with Jewish food law, what foods are acceptable and how they must be prepared to be considered “kosher,” fit, proper, or correct. The term kosher means that something is being used in accordance with proper Jewish culture and tradition. There is actually no such thing as “kosher style” cooking or food. It is not a book of recipes passed down from Jewish grandmothers to their daughters and granddaughters. Kosher foods are those that are in agreement with Biblical, Levitical law and Jewish traditional preparation.
Although the blessing of food is part of Jewish tradition, the rabbi does not “bless food” to make it kosher, nor does the family make it kosher when blessing it prior to consumption. If food is advertised as kosher in restaurants or grocery stores, the probability is high that it is not. What this usually means is that it is traditional Jewish food, but not necessarily prepared according to “Kashrut.” There is no such thing as kosher-style food. Any food can be kosher if it is prepared in accordance with Jewish ritual or law and it is an acceptable item for Jewish consumption.
Some believe that Judaic food laws found in the Old Testament, the Jewish Septuagint, exist for health purposes, and there are some truth to this. Many of these food laws do parallel what modern food science and medicine have discovered to be healthful. Improperly cooked pork, for instance, can contain the trichinosis parasite that if ingested by humans can be fatal. Animals that eat plants and chew their cud, like cattle, are acceptable