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Food and Cakes

Fish and Vegetarian only? OK?

I keep going back and forth on this: We are having a Jewish wedding in an area in Europe where not a lot of Jewish people live, so options are limited... we love our venue and the caterer but kosher is not an option. If we were getting married here in the US we probably would have chosen a kosher caterer. We are now thinking of just not serving meat at our wedding and only having vegetarian and fish options (thats my regular rule i.e. kosher at home and vegetarian / fish outside if kosher not available, so I feel like it makes sense to do what we ourselves normally do?) Or should we serve everything and let people have meat if they want it? (Its a sit-down dinner). In other words would it constitute "insufficient hosting" if we were to not offer meat? 
- The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 

Re: Fish and Vegetarian only? OK?

  • I don't think its "insufficient hosting" but check yourself on your reasons for doing it. Do the vast majority of your guests only eat kosher? Or just you two and a handful of guests? If the latter, I'd have a chicken or beef option for everyone else. That way you can stick to your kosher option and guests who want meat can have it.
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  • I don't think its "insufficient hosting" but check yourself on your reasons for doing it. Do the vast majority of your guests only eat kosher? Or just you two and a handful of guests? If the latter, I'd have a chicken or beef option for everyone else. That way you can stick to your kosher option and guests who want meat can have it.

    Agreed. I personally would have no problem with fish and vegetarian as the two options - DH doesn't eat fish and while I'm making progress with him on eating vegetarian food, he'd be pretty grumbly about it at a wedding. If many of your guests are non-kosher meat eaters, I think it's important to include that option. However, if the majority normally eat kosher, then gearing the menu towards them seems appropriate to me.
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  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    Are you paying for the meal and offering me a meal? That's pretty sufficient hosting.

    That being said: I'd feel horrible if I invited someone over for dinner and said "here's a bit plate of undressed kale for dinner. Enjoy!" So you have to find some middle ground between what you want to serve and what you think your guests want to eat.

    You don't HAVE to serve chicken or beef, but if your single reason to not serve it is "me and DH won't eat it", well...then why have menu choices at all in that case? Just serve one meal and have that be the end of it.
  • Thanks for the responses everyone. I guess the reasons behind it are a bit complicated. It goes in the direction of people potentially being offended/ judgmental about it (not my or his immediate family, rather some people in my extended family), because they feel like you have to do things a certain way for your wedding even if you don't necessarily follow that on a day-to-day basis. I don't know. I guess on the one hand I don't want to deprive guests who eat it of the chicken/ beef/ whatever options (and that is as you have guessed the majority of guests). On the other hand, it does go against our religion, and we are having a somewhat religious wedding (I guess its somewhere on the reform-conservative spectrum depending on what aspect of it), like we're having a Chuppah, Rabbi, Ketubah, all that stuff, and we are both excited about that -  so I am a bit worried it might generate side-eyes if we do the whole religious ceremony thing but then serve non-kosher food. I don't know. :/  
    Then again, the Rabbi marrying us is not orthodox so by the standards of people who might judge the food we have already failed, so... why am I even worried about this?! 
    - The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I'd probably be confused if you served a pork chop at your wedding. A only jewish-by lineage myself, I have no idea what is classified as kosher or not. I thought seafood wasn't kosher at all? Or is that just shellfish? I dunno.

    But yea, if someone knows enough to side-eye some non-kosher item at your wedding (that you're serving and not even eating yourself) then they'd probably have more than enough to side-eye without the food anyhow.
  • I would not expect to be served a non-kosher meal at a Jewish wedding. I would be confused by a lack of chicken/beef since I am under the impression they can be prepared kosher. And it doesn't sound like limiting oneself to vegetarian/fish entrees is actually necessarily kosher either, but just what you do when you go out because I guess those things are more likely to be kosher?

    I don't actually know all the rules, so I'm overall kind of confused here. Fish and vegetarian are themselves not generally crowd-pleasers, especially if you have any picky eaters in your bunch. If keeping kosher is important to you, I don't get why you would pick a caterer/location where you can't serve it. If it's not that important, I don't know why you don't serve what people will like and let your side-eyeing family members build a bridge and get over it.
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    Maggie0829
  • I guess my initial post has been a bit confusing. Let me try to explain (although this might get even more confusing, so, advance apologies): Here's the thing: the availability of kosher caterers is *very* limited in the area where the wedding is. Basically non-existent (there's only one, and their food is no good, and there are no raw spaces in the city - all venues have in-house catering) Its not like here, where arranging for kosher food is very simple. Growing up we never ate pork or shellfish but did eat non-kosher chicken / beef. Since I moved to the US I have been making some effort to keep kosher; FI is OK with doing it at home although it doesn't really matter to him (he does it because it somewhat matters to me... its not only a religious thing for me but also an expression of the fact that its... idk, easier? to be Jewish here than it is where I grew up (and things there are taking a turn for the worse currently). 
    Not to get too philosophical/ soap-boxy here, but I love that in the US you are free to pursue your religion and feel included in the general community no matter what 'minority' you are. Everybody's beliefs are respected and celebrated. I know its not perfect here either but I'd say its much better than any other place I've been to. Its one of the reasons I came here. But I guess I did choose to have the wedding in a place where I can't have a kosher caterer and I have to deal with that now. I did that because I wanted my family to be in the wedding (especially grandpa who is sick and can't travel), so I guess you can say that is more important to me than the kosher question. Which brings me back to my predicament. Ugh I'm getting a headache! 
    - The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its

    I would not expect to be served a non-kosher meal at a Jewish wedding. I would be confused by a lack of chicken/beef since I am under the impression they can be prepared kosher. And it doesn't sound like limiting oneself to vegetarian/fish entrees is actually necessarily kosher either, but just what you do when you go out because I guess those things are more likely to be kosher?


    I don't actually know all the rules, so I'm overall kind of confused here. Fish and vegetarian are themselves not generally crowd-pleasers, especially if you have any picky eaters in your bunch. If keeping kosher is important to you, I don't get why you would pick a caterer/location where you can't serve it. If it's not that important, I don't know why you don't serve what people will like and let your side-eyeing family members build a bridge and get over it.
    There are different levels of Kosher. Some kosher people will only eat at a place that is strictly kosher. I.e. you can't eat dairy with a fork that was eaten with meat.

    Others will eat at non-kosher places, but will only eat kosher style foods. I.e. they will not eat a cheese burger or even a steak grilled with butter. Nor will they eat meats that are not kosher. Finding kosher meats is not as easy as your think. Then finding a chef who knows how to prepare a meat kosher meal is not easy. Many will just throw some butter in the veggie pan and all the sudden it's not kosher. Or if you are really restrict if the pan every had butter you can't cook the meat for it to be kosher.


    Veggies and fish (fish with scales and fins) are 2 food groups that can be eaten with both meat and dairy. So if you are someone who will eat at a non-kosher place you are safe with veggies and fish with scales and fins.



    OP - I feel like your menu is fine. Your a Jewish. I'm guessing most of your guests are Jewish or at least know about your diet restrictions. Meat is never required. Your plan sounds perfect for your situation.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • IMO - you're offering options. As long as the vegetarian and fish options are "hearty" and glycemically balanced so no one is hungry an hour later, go with what you've got.  IMO, "plate for every guest" rule applies - it's food, and as long as it's not outlandish mystery tasting bites, go with what your plans are. 

    How would I react - better if I know what I'm RSVPing for.  Vegetarian option being spaghetti squash with red sauce vs. tofu on a stick, vs. swordfish and capers vs. vs. fish & chips, vs. vegetarian/fish...  Put the specific plate to be served as your RSVP..

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  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    What I'm wondering is if your more conservative (little c) Jewish friends/relatives will be able to eat your vegetarian/pescatarian meal?  I have Jewish friends who compromise by eating vegetarian in non-Kosher restaurants, and I also have Jewish friends (all forms of Orthodox or conservative Conservative) who do not eat in non-Kosher restaurants, period.  Just checking, since you mentioned your extended family judging you for not having an Orthodox rabbi performing the ceremony.  If you have some Glatt Kosher relatives you might look into getting kosher meals just for them if possible, and using disposable plates and silverware, for example.

    I don't have a problem with a bride and groom choosing to serve just vegetarian food and fish.  As long as you think about the overall comfort of your guests and try to pick items that are likely to be generally popular (e.g. tofu and bean sprouts served to meat and potato types) you are certainly able to be a good host under those limitations. 



  • @lyndausvi, thanks for the kosher explanation.

    OP, since that's what it takes to get kosher-acceptable food from a non-kosher caterer, go with that and just choose the best dishes (as far as pleasing the most people possible) you can. As in, go for a mild fish like tilapia or flounder rather than salmon or tuna and maybe like vegetarian lasagna for the other choice.
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  • buttercup1958buttercup1958 Blue Smokey Mountains
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    I wouldn't complain and neither would V. Bu then again I like fish and he loves vegetables. I guess it will all depend on how their cook. I would like tilapia or salmon while V would love stir fried/ grilled veggies. He hates when people steam vegetables.  So I think you are in the clear, maybe just put a decent discription of the choices when you send out invites?
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its

    @lyndausvi, thanks for the kosher explanation.


    OP, since that's what it takes to get kosher-acceptable food from a non-kosher caterer, go with that and just choose the best dishes (as far as pleasing the most people possible) you can. As in, go for a mild fish like tilapia or flounder rather than salmon or tuna and maybe like vegetarian lasagna for the other choice.
    Well it's a little more complicated than I said,, but you get the idea.  Sure some people who eat kosher do eat  meat ( not pork), but it's a lot more more complicated then a rabbi doing a few blessings.   Kosher meats are raised and slaughtered a certain way.  Then add preparation.  I.E You can't combine meat and dairy on the same plate or even at the same meal. Want ice cream for dessert?   Better not get the kosher steak for dinner.

      If you are really strict you will never eat meat that has been cooked in a pan that was EVER cooked with dairy. Not talking about there was butter on the last dish and then it was washed.  I mean it could have never been touched with dairy.  

    Those who are very conservative have completely different plates/pots/pans/ silverware and even ovens for dairy and meat.     Basically they have 2 kitchens.  One for meat.  One for dairy. 

    That is why it's hard to find a kosher caterer.   A normal restaurant is not going to go through the time and expense of buying kosher foods, let alone making sure they have separate meat and dairy stuff to prepare the dish. 

      That is even assuming they even know what kosher means.    A lot of people honestly think it's just a rabbi doing a few blessings or Jews can't eat bacon.








    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Thanks for the responses everyone and thanks @lyndausvi for explaining why it is so challenging to find a kosher caterer (much more eloquently that I could have managed! :)
    The difficulty is exactly that - everyone has a different "standard" of kosher-ness... it can range from nothing to no pork/ no shellfish to separate kitchens to "only use milk that was produced under rabbinic supervision"...there really is no limit to how strict you can be... most of the time this is determined by how you grew up. On that spectrum, my family is on the more liberal end but some people in my family feel that for something like a wedding, "more is more". And I would normally be happy to oblige, if we had the choice. 
    The good news is that the caterer tied to our venue is actually a (locally) famous chef. One of the things that makes this venue so attractive is the excellent food. So its definitely going to be a delicious dinner. We just have to figure out what we're serving...........
    - The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    @mj8515 - no problem. 

    My DH is a chef and worked at a place that had a lot of kosher guests. He grew up in a heavy populated Jewish area and knew his stuff (especially for an Italian Catholic boy).  When we lived in the islands (worked at a resort) the local rabbis would refer people to him.

    And just when he thought he had it down someone would come in more strict  would come in,

    He cooked for these 2 guys for years. Loved them.  Even between 2 of them, 1 would wait 3 hours before having meat or dairy and the other waited 5 hours.

    Made DH want to ....

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    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I knew cows had to be slaughtered a certain way to be kosher, and about the not mixing meat/dairy on the plate, but I wasn't aware chicken had restrictions as well.

    Very interesting to learn this stuff, but I'm SO glad I don't have to eat kosher on a regular basis. I like bacon. And cheeseburgers. And... you get the idea.
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  • KahlylaKahlyla Moncton, NB member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper

    I knew cows had to be slaughtered a certain way to be kosher, and about the not mixing meat/dairy on the plate, but I wasn't aware chicken had restrictions as well.


    Very interesting to learn this stuff, but I'm SO glad I don't have to eat kosher on a regular basis. I like bacon. And cheeseburgers. And... you get the idea.
    In Judaism, there is a prohibition against eating blood as well, so things like Kosher chicken are actually basically brined - soaked in water, then covered in salt, which extracts the blood, then the salt is removed, etc. It's actually incredibly tasty because it's so moist and seasoned. *drool*

    Of course, Kosher meats are also quite expensive generally speaking, unless you're in an area where the demand is so high that it drives the prices down. I find a lot of my Jewish friends eat a fair number of vegetarian meals, both for all of the reasons outlined above and also to mitigate the cost a bit.
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