When I tweeted about the discovery of pork-flavored foie gras, a follower expressed disapproval: “Why would you want to make kosher pork-flavored anything?!”
The porky flavor of the Spanish goose-liver was confirmed by a number of European (non-Jewish) chefs. But…why try it?
“In the future a person will have to give a reckoning for everything he saw and did not eat” (Jerusalem Talmud, Kidushin 2:4).
Does this mean the Torah sanctions gluttony? Far from it! Food is our initial contact with desire and its uses and abuses. Many of us struggle with eating disorders, from bulimia and anorexia to overeating and junk-food addiction. And unlike other addictions, one can’t just go cold turkey on food. The struggle for “KOSHER” eating is always there.
The forbidden is perennially tempting – as King Solomon writes in Proverbs 9:17, “Stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasurable” – and perhaps for that reason, every non-kosher food has a kosher taste-equivalent. Judaism is about sanctification of our physical desires, not denial of them. There’s nothing wrong with the flavor of pork, bacon, or shellfish, so long as we enjoy it in a permitted way.
G-d could easily have created a world where our nourishment came solely through handfuls of vitamins; instead He presented us with a vast array of colors, textures and flavors. Taking control of our lives and our eating, making every bite an opportunity for sanctity, is deeply satisfying.
So… why try kosher pork-flavored foie gras? Why not?!