Holy Meat!

Mmm ... slaughtered.

Like the scars of a well-done plastic surgery, like the small print on labels of prescription narcotics, the meanings of religious texts are sometimes wonderfully hidden and obscure. For example, from the Koran, Sura 54: “We are sending to them the she-camel, that We may put them to the proof.” And from Revelations 19:21: “And the remnant that were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” And this, from Exodus 23:19: “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.”

The upshot of this last statement, sandwiched off-handedly among a long litany of rules Moses read to the Israelites, is my mother, thousands of years later, yelling at me across a table, “You’re eating cheese on that?” (Ronnie Cohen, circa 1990s.) This short and semantically strange line (seethe?) has also led to separate settings of flat — and silverware, innovative methods of ritual slaughter, distinctions among single- and cloven-hoofed animals, distinctions among the varieties of rumination and mastication, and the greatest gastronomic innovation of the 20th century: deli.

So, to make your mother happy if she keeps kosher — and yourself happy no matter how closely you follow Mosaic law — here’s a list of kosher restaurants in Prague. All entrees served with your choice of either indigestion or guilt.

King Solomon
Široká 8, Prague 1

Named after either the third king of the Israelites or a 1970s African-American porn star, this restaurant is the Michelin-est kosher place in town. Which means it’s expensive, although the quality is arguably worth it (“arguably” meaning an interminable Jewish argument). Sumptuous duckling and, of course, chicken, chicken and chicken. Try their three-course lunchtime special for the “Oy”-inducing price of 490 Kč. Still, I’ve eaten here, and I’m the only Jew I know without money.

Carmel
Břehová 5, Prague 1

This establishment is what’s wrong with the Middle East peace process. It’s time the international community stopped crucifying the Jews for all this mishegas: All Israelis are not Jews, and all Israeli food is not Jewish food. My relatives were eating borscht and herring when the ragtops, Jewish and Arab alike, were eating pita and hummus. That said, Carmel is an excellent place for kosher Israeli food. It’s probably the one restaurant in Prague where Arafat would feel most at home, especially as kosher is almost the same as halal, the Islamic dietary law. Have the lentil soup, served steaming. It’s worth selling your birthright for, but it’ll only cost you 90 Kč.

Jewish Town Hall
Maiselova 18, Prague 1

This you call a restaurant? No, this is a kitchen, the noshing place for members of the local Jewish community, and it’s the cheapest meal in town, kosher or not. Twenty-five Czech crowns gets you a ticket, and a ticket gets you a hot and filling meal in the gorgeous surroundings of the old theater on Maiselova Street. The menu revolves weekly and only members can buy tickets. Get a membership, or strike up a friendship with someone whose last name ends in –baum or –blatt or –krantz or -stein, and get ready to enjoy the lightest, tastiest, holiest knedlíky you’ll ever have.

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