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About Kosher Foods
I’m becoming more convinced that a little meal planning for vacations can make it possible to travel almost anywhere in the world for business or for pleasure with plenty to eat (and no stress about it!) Granted, this will be easiest to do in the states, but you can certainly do it.
You can now enjoy luxury vacations at even the most deluxe resorts (especially there) and get kosher food. It just takes a little research and planning, and believe me, it’s well worth it.
Pick your Vacation Spot
As one of the expert kosher travelers I’ve interviewed told me,”Dream about where you are going to go, and then figure out where the Jews are.”
Back to the dreaming phase. Do you want:
-an island vacation
-a private escape where you’ll meet no one you know
-a luxury cruise, resort vacation
-a vacation to see the world on a limited budget
-to see other cultures, including our own?
Dream about where it is you want to go and answer some questions like:-am I interested in meeting new people?
-do I want to see museums and culture or just sit on a beach?
-how long can I go for?
-how important is eating to you?
-how long do I want to be on a plane for?
-do I want to be able to eat in restaurants?
If you find it is hard for you to make a decision about where to go, try this tool: Handy Dandy Decision Making tool
Luxury Hotel, Cruise, and Resort Stays
If you are staying at a secluded resort and pretty much spending all of your time there, you can either:
a. do some research to see where the Jews are and if there are any kosher restaurants nearby using www.chabad.org or kosherdelight.com.
b. order food with royalpalate.com, have it delivered to your hotel, making sure you ask for a refrigerator in your room.
c. call the hotel and ask for the food services manager. By now, most anyone working in food services has heard of kosher food. Most likely, you can arrange to have kosher meals delivered to you in your room, in any large resort. (The best place for this is Disney World).
d. If you are not staying in a Jewish area, simply bring a pot and when you arrive, go to a grocery store buying your favorite foods. Kasher the oven and microwave in your hotel and cook.
Private Beach Vacations
I know a frum family that spends a lot of time in the Carribean, Antigua, Barbados, Tobago, the Cayman Islands. They want a really private, cozy, vacation and don’t want to see anyone they know.
What they do is research for private beaches so swimming is not a n issue.
Next they reserve a villa that MUST have a kitchen, stove, refrigerator, a.k.a., a kitchenette.
Since finding a grocery store nearby is often rare, they bring EVERYTHING they can and devote 1 or 2 suitcases to doing so.
Tuna, jelly, cereal, pretzels, pasta, breadmixes, etc. 1 or 2 pots and pans. They happen to eat very simply on this vacation.
If you want more elaborate food, you can do the same thing. Go to restaurants nearby and order lots of takeout meals. Freeze them. Before you leave, wrap them frozen and put them into a suitcase. Check the suitcase on the plane. You may have to check with customs officials to make sure you can bring the meat into the country. If you don’t want to bring this onto the plane, you can pack it in dry ice and ship it through via the post office.
The benefits to these models is that you don’t need to try to find a grocery store once you are there. You may want to find a market that sells fruits and vegetables, but most likely that won’t be a problem.
You see that this research phase of meal planning for vacations is not too strenuous. It is definitely worth doing the meal planning before hand so you can enjoy a relaxing stay.
International Travel with little JewryInternational travel is a little bit harder to menu plan. Here’s what I recommend you do.
1. Get a list of what you can buy in the country you are going to. Call the Star-K and do a search on the internet for items you can buy anywhere in the world. Here’s a few:
bottled water; unflavored seltzer; beer; beer on tap in a business bar; peanuts roasted in a shell; dried beans, split peas, and all other dried legumes and canned fruits produced in the U.S. with no additives other than sugar. Please note that canned cherries may contain carmine, an insect extract used for coloring. Do not buy canned cherries (these may also be found in fruit cocktail) without reliable supervision. In addition, canned plums may contain a coloring derived from grape skin..
Also, most dried fruits may be consumed; exceptions include prunes with added oil, pineapples, pears, raisins, and apples. You may buy any canned pineapples made in Thailand or the Philippines. You may also purchase any frozen vegetables containing no oils or other additives.
You may purchase and consume any whole kosher fish. However, if the fish store employee cuts the fish with a non-kosher knife, the cut area may become not kosher. To avoid this problem, bring your own knife with you to the store.
Do ask your Rabbi as I am not one!
2. Next, do a search on the country you are staying at, again chabad.org and kosherdelight.com are great sites.
3. Find the Jews in the country you are traveling to. Do enough preparation to make sure the community knows you are coming. A lot of community have lists with an approved section of foods with manufacturer and there is a no section and a maybe.
Email people in advance to talk about food. For example, in Lisbon there is a woman who cooks food for Jewish travelers. In Cophenhagen you can eat their yogurt. All these insider secrets come from talking to the residents of the city/country you are traveling to.
I imagine if you are touring a country with little Jewry, you want to see and do and meet people, and learn about the culture. Like I said, find the Jews, contact them, make sure they know you are coming, find out what you can and cannot eat and bring food that is non perishable.
You can go anywhere! Part of the fun is doing the research before hand only to be able to use it when you get there.
If you are traveling with your company or on business and need to be able to “blend in” to company dinners and awards ceremonies, here’s what you can do.
Instead of asking your company to provide you with kosher (because mixups can often occur), call the hotel directly and ask for the catering services manager. Tell them you need kosher meals.
I know of one frum woman who was being honored at a company dinner and what she had the hotel do was use a regular china plate with a napkin folded beautifully on top of the plate. On top of the napkin was a plastic plate holding her actual dinner. It was very discreet, no one noticed that she was eating a different meal. This was in Cancun.
You can do it too!
Rivka Slatkin is the founder of Jewish Life Organized and started it when she herself was looking to organize the Jewish Holidays. Rivka did a lot of research on how others organizing the Yomim Tovim and posted her findings on her website for her friends and family. Lots more people found Jewishlifeorganized.com and wanted copies of the Yom Tov Perfectly Organized Collection. “I guess I wasn’t the only one looking to get more organized for the holidays!”, Rivka says. Go to http://www.jewish-life-organized.com to sign up for Rivka’s free newsletter.