It's not just matzah, gefilte fish, and borsht in the kosher aisle of the supermarket anymore. These days you can find kosher chutney, tandoori paste, teriyaki sauce…even pre-made frozen saag paneer and chicken tikka masala. Yes folks, kosher is going global. We all saw it happen to some Chinese restaurants and a few Italian joints, but now it's really blowing up. This year's Kosherfest, the annual trade show for the kosher food industry, featured hundreds of new ethnic products, with the "Best New Product" award going to Mikee's shiitake teriyaki sauce. According to The Jewish Week,
More than 100,000 products now carry one of the 900 kosher symbols used throughout the world. Menachem Lubinsky, who founded Kosherfest 19 years ago, said that the kosher market nowadays is driven by an increasingly younger and more affluent consumer, whose basic mantra is “If it can be made kosher, I’ll eat it.”
So what does it mean when the most observant Jews can eat almost anything they want, including the foods of other cultures?
Adam Kaufman, vice president of sales for Mikee (pronounced "Mikey")…said that Jews are traditionally "supposed to think about God when they eat kosher food. It was supposed to separate them spiritually from other peoples. But now Jews don't want to feel left out just because they're eating kosher."
In this age of increasing globalization, it makes sense that kosher ethnic products are surfacing, and it's not only observant Jews who want more kosher choices, but also Kabbalists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Muslims. Kosher food manufacturers are simply adjusting their products to satisfy a range of cultures.
I'm just worried that with all the new kosher ethnic products, traditionally Jewish food will become extinct. I mean, really, picture yourself in the kosher supermarket aisle debating whether to buy bottled borscht or chicken tikka masala: it's a no-brainer!