Kosherfest. A festival of kosher food. A celebration of tried and true old products and the introduction of new and exciting edible delights that are Torah-approved.
Another way to look at Kosherfest? A very large room overstuffed with tons of Jews who are overstuffing their faces. I think it is okay for me to make a remark like that, as I am a Jew. But I was not stuffing my face.
The first time I went to Kosherfest, I think it was seven years ago, I could not believe what I was seeing. There were women there who had brought rolls of tinfoil to wrap up samples, and I assume bring them home for dinner. Rolls of tinfoil. I am not making that up. I also remember the “Pizza Cones,” which were cones made of pizza crust and filled with cheese and sauce. Very delicious, and never seen again. Oh well. (Sorry, I got off topic, you all know that food does that to me.) The following year, there was a large sign that read “Only one bag per person.” I have no idea if or how they implemented that rule. Folks can get nasty if you take away their food.
Not only is there food at Kosherfest, there also is alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. But the best is when alcohol is combined with a food product. A good way to hide it! Introducing Buzzpops, a lovely combination of ices and alcohol. Delicious with that little extra … buzz. It brought me back to when I used to put wine in my soda so my kids wouldn’t know that I was drinking wine. I’m so sneaky. The only problem is that they look like any other ice pop, so you have to make sure your little ones don’t get hold of one. Reminds me of the time that I had put vodka in some water bottles and son #3 thought it was a regular water bottle and then child services was called. Good times. (Unfortunately, the vodka part is true. Fortunately, the child services part is not true.)
And then there are all the companies that want you to think their products are healthier because they are salt free, gluten free, fat free, cholesterol free, and taste free. Quinoa instead of flour, quinoa instead of sugar, quinoa instead of high fructose corn syrup. There is lots and lots of quinoa. And there are kosher for Passover products on display. Why? It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!
And now we come to the samples. Though I am not the neatest person in the world, I am a bit of a germaphobe. If the samples are not individually wrapped, I will not take one. Even if it is a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. The thought of all of those people breathing and coughing on an open platter of mini hot dogs or cheese or bobka bites — or anything really — is not very appealing to me. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to the majority of people at Kosherfest. If it is free, they take it. At one table, there were three plush stuffed animals. I asked the lady if they were giving them away and she replied yes. So I took one (thinking that Moby, the fish that son #3 left me in charge of while he is in Israel, would have something familiar to look at, possibly reminding him of a cousin that he once hung out with before he became a pet). The woman who was standing next to me took the other two. I was so tempted to ask her what she needed two stuffed fish for but I really didn’t care. If it’s free, there it goes.
And then there was the insurance booth that was giving away personalized notebooks if you answered a brief survey. I was all over that, because you never see the name “Banji” on anything. I also was excited because I always keep a journal and now I would have a nice new one waiting for me. The woman took my name, added it to her very long list (again, because it is free), and told me to come back in 20 minutes or so. But because I am getting older and was distracted by all of the food, I totally forgot about the notebook. I only remembered it when I was back in my car and back on the turnpike. Rats! What to do? I remembered talking to my friend, who was there on behalf of a local kosher establishment, and I quickly messaged her. Because she is such a mitzvah girl, she located the notebook and brought it back to Teaneck safe and sound. Baruch Hashem.
So what are the lessons at the end of this column? Always be friendly to people who you know, because you never know if you will need them to do you a favor. And always check your kids’ ice pops.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck got to see son #1 and daughter in law #1 twice in one day. Unfortunately, she hasn’t seen son #2 in quite some time. Here’s hoping he comes home for Thanksgiving.