Jam on toast is all the rage in Perth. Kids are having jam on toast. Adults are having jam on toast. Right now I am not at all sure 100% sure that there is a wallaby smothering herself in jam and claiming to be toast. So much jam everywhere you look. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that’s weird because there aren’t very many Jews in Perth.
Andronico’s is a magical grocery store on the corner of Funston and Irving Street in San Francisco. Unlike Whole Foods, Andronico’s sells necessities like Cheetos and Diet Coke, as well as organic, locally-sourced, grass-fed, artisanal artichokes or whatever was featured in the most recent issue of Yoga Journal. It is a beautiful store and if they ever pull up my credit card purchases over the last 15 years, I will keel over and drop dead in their glorious cheese department.
One day about five years ago, I went to Andronico’s to buy some pork chops. I had never eaten a pork chop before then, let alone purchased one. I was raised Jewish and pork wasn’t exactly banned in our house, but it certainly wasn’t promoted. My dad’s feeling on pork was that we won’t cook it ourselves, but if it’s served to you in someone else’s home, you best be swallowing every bite of that honey-baked ham. This philosophy is not unusual for a reformed Jewish household, particularly one featuring a Jew who fled Germany in 1938. It’s almost a subcategory of keeping kosher. “No pork or shellfish in this house, but I don’t ever want to hear about you being a prima donna in someone else’s home. You eat what is put before you. End of story.” So why was I then at the meat counter at Andronico’s asking Bobby the Butcher about bone-on versus boneless? Because I married a handsome shegetz who likes his pork, that’s why. A middle-aged lady with glasses standing next to me at the counter overheard my conversation with Bobby and exclaimed, “What? You’ve never had a pork chop?” I said that no, funnily enough, I had never cooked a pork chop because I’m Jewish, I didn’t have pork growing up, it never occurred to me that pork was a perfectly acceptable type of meat, my husband will be excited, and blah dee blah. I thanked Bobby for the pork and the cooking instructions, and walked off in search of whole-wheat english muffins. Ten minutes later, I was checking out and that same lady from the meat counter ended up behind me in line. At this point, she took a jar of fancy all-fruit-cloth-top blueberry jam out of her cart, showed it to me, and asked, “Excuse me, but do your people like jam?” I assumed I had misheard her, and that she had said something about steeples and lamb. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” She repeated, a bit more slowly and loudly, “Do your people like jam?” Umm, what is happening right now? What on earth is she talking about? Who are my people and why wouldn’t we like jam? Who doesn’t like jam? I smiled at her, “Yes, my people LOVE jam.” She sighed with relief and explained that she was heading over to a Jewish friend’s house for dinner that night, and wanted to bring a little something, and my comment she overheard about pork got her thinking oh no what if Jews don’t eat jam, and she didn’t want to offend someone. God forbid she offend someone. I reiterated that jam is a delightful gift and who doesn’t love jam.
My point is, jam is delicious. And I will be eating a lot of jam over the next couple of years. Which is no surprise, given that my people love jam.