So your Jewish friends have asked you to prepare a bar mitzvah meal, and you're uncertain of where to begin. Bar mitzvah celebrations are a special time in a young boy's life, and you don't want to make any mistakes. Here's what you need to know about making a great dinner.
Foods That Are Kosher
People who follow the Jewish faith often follow a strict dietary guideline known as "kosher." This is designed to help them avoid eating foods that God would frown upon. If your friend's bar mitzvah is kosher, you need to limit yourself to the following foods:
- Meat – While most meats are allowed on a kosher diet, there are restrictions. For example, all meat must come from a certified kosher butcher. Animals typically okay for a kosher meal include goats, cows, sheep, deer, turkey, chicken, duck, and fish with scales.
- Drinks – Milk from a kosher animal is okay, as is hot black coffee and tea. Water is obviously fine, as are are most fruit juices (check below for fruit requirements).
- Dairy – All dairy products must come from kosher animals, and all cheese must be made with vegetable-based enzymes. Products, such as most ice cream and yogurt, are not kosher, as they use gelatin.
- Fruits and vegetables – All fruits and vegetables must be carefully examined and cleaned to remove insects. Eating insects is not kosher.
- Grains and cereals – Generally, grains are kosher. However, they must be unprocessed and should contain a symbol on the packaging indicating their kosher status.
Choosing Between A Lavish Or Restrained Meal
Bar mitzvah celebrations have a long, long history. Some Jewish historians claim they originate as early as the time of Abraham, when Issac was weaned at the age of 13, the typical age of a bar mitzvah. Abraham's excitement and celebration turned out quite lavish, which has fueled a debate for ages: how lavish should a bar mitzvah be before it is too much?
These days, bar mitzvah parties can be huge, and many people in the Jewish community are reacting against that. So should you create a lavish meal or one that is restrained and respectful? It all depends on the family's desires.
Lavish meals will give everyone a chance to celebrate with a variety of foods. Remember, a bar mitzvah is a serious and solemn event, but the party is designed to be an exciting and celebratory affair. So don't be afraid to go a little wild, as bar mitzvahs are generally private parties, held with close friends and family members.
Creating a good bar mitzvah meal requires balancing an incredible array of foods that stick to kosher guidelines. A good private bar mitzvah party often lasts all day, so you need to include a lot of really engaging and delicious foods. Here's a typical menu guideline for a good dinner:
- Snacks for arriving – Finger foods, such as kosher grilled cheese and small bowls of soup, serve as the perfect way to greet guests to a bar mitzvah. Use multiple cheese, such as smoked cheddar, to create a rich palate of foods. Soups can include delicious tomato soups or chicken.
- Hors d'oeuvre – Create a series of small snack trays that can be spread around the dining hall and snacked on for the duration of the party. Kosher meat and cheese trays are great, as are goat cheese rolls, grilled fish finger snacks, egg rolls, and veggies.
- Main course – A good bar mitzvah dinner should include a carefully cleaned salad with a delicious vinaigrette on top. The main dish should be an intricate meat dish, such as crushed rosemary crusted chicken breast with artichoke and potatoes on the side.
- Dessert – As long as you stick within strict kosher guidelines, you can create incredible desserts, such as chocolate lava cakes, crème brulee, apple pie, spiced pumpkin pie, and espresso pie.
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect for your bar mitzvah dinner plan. You'll be creating some truly delicious foods that will enhance the party and make it one that your friend's son will remember for his whole life.