Butcher Talk

I was in the mood for cooking a turkey stew. So off I went to the meat department in the supermarket. When it was my turn, I asked the butcher for 3 kilos of turkey cut into pieces for stew.

“We don’t have any turkey today”, he said. “Why don’t you buy lamb stew?”

“Lamb stew”, I replied, “is a basic staple on Sephardic tables. I am not Sephardi or Mizrachi”.

He looked puzzled and asked, “Are you a racist?”

I answered, “No, I’m not a racist. I’m an Ashkenazi and I don’t like lamb”.

“Where are you from?” he wanted to know.

“From Israel and I still don’t like lamb. Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow”, I told him.

“Who is Mary”, he wanted to know. “In Hebrew, her name would be Miriam”, I replied.

He still looked puzzled. “What? Miriam or Mary, she doesn’t like lamb either? Is she an Ashkenazi too?”

“I don’t know who she is or was but she likes to see little lambs in a zoo but not on her dinner table”.

“Mister, I don’t understand you Ashkenazim. Where I come from, we killed a lamb and roasted it on the fire. All the family came outside to eat. The lamb was delicious. Forget your turkey. Let me sell you some lamb”.

“No thank you”, I answered. I’m happy that you and your family enjoy eating roasted lamb. By the way, where did you come from?”

“I was born in a village in Uzbekistan. Everybody had lambs. Everybody roasted lambs. That was our main meal. Then I went with my wife and two kids to America. To Florida. A place called Miami Beach. Did you hear about it?”

“Yes”, I told him. “I have heard about it. Many Jewish people like to go there in the winter to escape from ice and snow. Why did you go to Florida instead of coming directly to Israel?”

He said that he heard there were lots of Jews in Miami Beach and he thought he could make a good living selling kosher lamb to them. But he was very disappointed because most of the Jewish customers were Ashkenazim and did not care to eat lamb.

“So I came to Israel because I heard that here all the Jews love to eat lamb. Everyone except you. I am very disappointed that you won’t buy lamb today”, he said as I was leaving.

“I’ll be back next time”, I told him. “But then you better have turkey for me”.

“What business do you have?’ he asked. I told him that I was a retired professor. “Why didn’t you become a doctor? So many rich doctors”.

I asked him “Why didn’t you become a mohel. You cut meat so quickly”.

He looked at me and dropped his knife.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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