In a country now marked by exaggerated, exquisite and often bogus “sensitivity” to the faith (or, rather less frequently, lack of faith) of others, a new restaurant in Brooklyn comes as a welcome source of light relief – and good eating.
Chef Jason Marcus superstitiously believes in patterns, and in his view the fates conspired for him to open his new restaurant in Brooklyn, where he serves the shellfish and pork that he unabashedly loves. “It’s probably because I’m Jewish,” Marcus says about his obsession with synchronicity, and about his love for pork, shellfish, and even Seinfeld.
The restaurant, which Marcus opened with his non-Jewish girlfriend, Heather Heuser, is a paean to foods forbidden by Jewish dietary laws. They aptly chose the Yiddish word traif, meaning non-kosher, to be their restaurant’s new name.
Over at Beliefnet, Rod Dreher disapproved. To be sure, he supported the right of the restaurant to exist, and noted, not unfairly, that a Muslim opening a restaurant called Haram might get into trouble, but then he added this:
Call me superstitious, but I have a bad feeling about a restaurant whose concept is based on defying religious law. In the same way, even though I don’t believe The Book of Mormon or the Koran are divinely inspired, I would treat those books with extra respect, just because they are sacred to somebody. Anyway, though I obviously am not Jewish and don’t keep kosher, I wouldn’t eat at Traif simply because even if I don’t believe in a particular religion, and even though I’m pleased that Jason Marcus has the liberty to open this kind of restaurant, I don’t find blasphemy, or quasi-blasphemy, cute.
And there in a nutshell we have a nice (if relatively harmless) example of the grinding, depressing etiquette of an American era in which religion has to be treated with a deference largely unthinkable a few decades ago. It’s time to lighten up, long past time.
My advice: Go to Traif and eat what I ate a weekend or so ago – crispy, braised pork belly, followed by sauteéd sweetbreads, all washed down, of course, with a glass or two of He’Brew Messiah Bold beer.