Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On Yom Tov and Shabbos Food

Over Yom Tov, we had my sister and her family over to eat in our sukkah. Before Yom Tov, my wife asked my nieces, nephew and kids what they wanted to eat on Yom Tov. The answers that we got were the ones you might expect of kids - hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. So, that's what we made. We also had some meatballs, sphagetti and other food as well.

My sister made the point (in a totally friendly, non-offensive way) that the fare wasn't exactly what one would term "Shabbos food" or "Yom Tov food." To that I'll agree - usually when one thinks of Shabbos/Yom Tov food you think of chicken, chulent, kishke, kugel and maybe a roast. Hot dogs? Hamburgers?

And yet, the day was a hit. It certainly made the kids moods better that they got food that they liked, rather than food that was, to them, boring. Now, I'm certainly not the type to cater (literally, in this case) to our childrens' every whim - but once in a while finding out what they like and making it for them rather than the standard fare is certainly of no harm. In fact, it may generate some good Shabbos/Yom Tov memories that they can carry forward to adulthood.

And yet, I can't help but believe that there are certain segments in our community that, looking for anything or anyone who is different, would condem this act of culinary heresy. I remeber a converstation that I eavesdropped on (yes, I know it's bad manners - I'm not perfect!) where one person was downright shocked that someone they know didn't serve chicken on Friday night. Apparently, the idea of even the slightest thing deviating from the norm is too much for them.

At least the person never found out about the barbeque Sheva Brachos that I once went to. *That* would have blown his mind!

The Wolf

UPDATE: My wife wants it publicly known that there was more than simply hot dogs, hamburgers and spaghetti/meatballs served that day. There was also stuffed cabbage, honey chicken, kugels and homemade muffins.

I am now back in my wife's good graces again. :)

The Wolf


SemGirl said...

Sheez why are some ppl so hidebound. Oneg Shabbos means eat what you enjoy. Especially if it means happy children whats wrong with that..

Anonymous said...


Nothing's wrong with it. However, we are supposed to elevate ourselves on Shabbos- and the Torah (Nach) gives us instructions on how to do that: 'Daber davar', etc. This is directed at all aspects of the day, including the food. Our Shabbos experience should be different- loftier- that our weekday one.

So, the issue is not "that type of food is not Shabbosdik", rather, "that's the same food we eat all week".

queeniesmom said...


Theory is very nice but shalom bayit and happy kids make for a much pleasanter shabbat/yom tov. our current staples: plain noodles, ketchup, fish sticks,but only the ones in the red box (S2 can taste the difference, we found this out the hard way over Rosh Hashana when I had to buy a differnt brand) and dinosaur chicken nuggets. the adults eat a more varied and eclectic diet but it depends on my mood what I cook and who's coming over to eat.

sounded like a great meal to me! I'm not sure where or on which stone it was written that we must eat chicken soup and cholet at all shabbat/yom tov meals. anyway IMHO cholent is horrible, yicky, sticky stuff. (sorry, Tigger). never cook it or eat it.

will have to decide what "people" food I'm cooking tomorrow. the rest of the menu is set.

The Chainik Hocker said...

That's funny. We did the same thing at my parents' house- except in this case it was my mother's idea.

"I'm bored of chicken and kugel"- so we didn't have any.

One meal was Italian- spaghetti, meatballs, Italian wine.

One meal was Chinese- chow mein, sesame chicken, egg drop soup.

We even had Mexican- chili, tacos, and guacamole.

Our neighbors were shocked- shocked!

Which is why they ended every single meal in our sukkah.

I'm never going to get used to Lakewood.

Anonymous said...

You hang around vegetarians enough, and you start making one hell of a Shabbos Lasagna, packed with 4 cheeses and all sorts of good veggies, like mushrooms, spinach, and little onions.

Talking about vegetarians, you ever eat cheese with your chulent?

The carnivorous family I grew up in cycled through the same 4 variations on "Shabbos food" for 18 years. It was good, but it's nice to have more options now.

Boruch said...

While I'll be the first to admit that the frum world values conformism, let's not overstate it. I don't think anyone believes that we are required to eat Eastern European Jewish food on Yom Tov. We should, however, choose to eat things that are appropriate for a meal infused with kedusha. Hotdogs and hamburgers are things people eat in the parking lots of football stadiums. It is common food. If you want to feed it to the kids, that's one thing, but for the adults, I don't think it is appropriate. My wife makes food of many different nationalities and cultures for shabbos/y"t, but all of it would be considered a step up from the norm, not something that is commonly eaten wrapped in paper.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Sushi instead of gefilta fish!

(sorry, just had to say that)

Anonymous said...

Wolf, I can top your bbq. Our sheva brachas had a mexican festia theme, put on by our rabbi no less.

Gil Student said...

My wife has made the same type of chicken for every single Shabbos we've been home over the past 11+ years.

OK, not every Shabbos. I think there were two or three times where she experimented with a different recipe.

Anonymous said...

We have new recipies etc all the time - just as one wears fancy new clothes first on Shabbat, we try to have a new recipie for the first time on Shabbat. I could be happy having rotisserie chicken every Friday night, but it wouldn't keep my wife happy. And some of the alternatives she cooks up are wonderful. We don't always have meat either - one week we had a baked stuff brie wrapped in phyllo dough as our main course. There are some Indian Jewish dishes that regularly make the rounds - mostly from the Baghdadi Inidans Jews. And I love Sephardic food.

And some weeks I'm overwhelmed with work and my wife's medical condition is such that she can't cook a fancy meal and we make do. We don't honor Shabbat any less in consequence.

Anonymous said...

BOSUR AND YAYIN.any type of bosur that you enjoy and will make the kids have simcha on yomtov.

Anonymous said...

One is suppossed to enjoy themselves and elevate themselves on Shabbat. If the children or other members of the family groan when you bring out the main course ("oh no, not chicken again!; or "I'm not eating the chicken..I had the fish and soup, so can I just have dessert??), then how is that suppossed to reflect positively on the Shabbos atmosphere?
If people are excited and happy to have spaghetti and meatballs for Shabbos (and you don't end up with leftovers for the entire week!!) then, IMHO, you have honored the Shabbos properly. People should enjoy their meals on Shabbos and leave the table feeling satisfied and happy.
So, our children, nieces, and nephews actually ate happily and enjoyed themselves on the Yom Tov.
If its an aveirah, then "chatasi". But something tells me that it isn't. ;)

Anonymous said...

It's nice to have food that is a step up from your regular fare, but for the kids, let 'em eat what they want! I know a family that has pizza for a Shavuos meal and some that are horrified at that.

Anonymous said...

We once were invited out on a yomtov, and the host made a barbecue. The kids loved it.

Ezzie said...

We had a BBQ Sheva Brachos - it was great.

Yiasher Kochacha on making your family happy. Interesting note: My Israeli charedi cousins are the only ones I've seen do the same. Maybe it's a cultural, and not yeshivish, thing?

MC Aryeh said...

Most of the ffb frummies I know are afraid to have anything on shabbat that their mothers did not serve when they were kids or which is not brown in color!

BrooklynWolf said...

I know that Shabbos food is supposed to be "better" than the food you have during the week. I understand the concept and agree with it, in theory.

In practice, however, there is a lot of wisdom in what eeees says (and I'm not just saying that because I'm married to her): if people are going to groan and complain when the food is served, then the food does not qualify as ta'anugim. While I certainly wouldn't say that people should have hot dogs/hamburgers every Shabbos, there is certainly nothing wrong with a change in the routine once in a while.

The Wolf

Air Time said...

I know I am late to chilme in here, but we always BBQ on the last day of Yom Tov. Usually I grill up burgers, hotdogs, chicken and maybe ribs or steak. We also have corn, buns, pickles, olives and baked beans.

By the time we hit the last day everyone is so sick of Yom Tov food.

Air Time said...

After reading through the comments, I feel compelled to add we usually have pizza on the first night of Shavuos, and this year, on Simchas torah, being we were in Israel, we had a relative order pizza for us. Somehow I forgot to pack my grill.

Anonymous said...

Back when I was single, I was declared "too modern" to be going out with a very nice guy because of the type of foods I would serve to my guests on Shabbat.

Fortunately I did get married and my husband loves the fact that a. I enjoy cooking and b. that he gets to have a variety of different foods on Shabbat. I have probably made 25 different soups for Shabbat since we have been married, and that is only scratching the surface.

... Is the Window to Our Soul said...

Wow...I am learning a lot! I have to admit that I too, was shocked to learn that throwing on some quick hamburgers/hotdogs on a grill is an acceptable friday night meal. I am not observant and had always had the illusion that Shabbat, especially Friday night was suppose to be a really special meal, formal, and full singing, songs, discussion etc. What I have learned is that is the exception not the norm, especially with those that have small children. My husband and I keep saying that we wanted to start having a traditional Friday Shabbat dinner that will create warm memories for our children. I would be lying if I didn't tell how disappointed I am to learn the real truth. I guess since I never had it, I always romanticized how I thought it was and what I always felt was missing in our family. I even had dinner at a Chabad family house and was trying not to fall asleep from boredom. Ok...they did serve some more traditional dishes, but the ambience was dull and extremely quiet. All I kept thinking was "this was it - what is so special about this." But the reality is, when you have young children, and when you are not entertaining guests, it's probably probably just like any other night with a few small exceptions. Am I right? An orthodox friend of mine has argued that I missing the whole point and that my current perception is still all wrong. I wonder who is really living in the fantasy?