For the purposes of this blog post, I Googled “Jews and Chinese food.” These are the top results:
- An article about a fancy Chinese restaurant opening owned by a Jewish man (Duff Goldman was among the celebrity food people who attended)
- Judaism 101: What Jews do on Christmas
- Why did Jewish Communities take to Chinese food?
- A sociology paper on why Jews love Chinese food
It’s a well known fact that Jews + Christmas = Chinese food. I grew up knowing this, even though I don’t remember my family participating in the tradition. I do remember how difficult it was to find decent Chinese food in Dallas. Every time we would find a halfway decent place, after a few months we would inevitably drive by one day and it would be gone. So what really sticks out in my memory about Chinese food is how excited we were to visit my grandparents in New York because we knew it meant amazing Chinese… I mean, we totally wanted to just hang out with my grandparents because they’re so cool and awesome [looks the other way]…
My family didn’t keep Kosher at that point, so we would stuff ourselves with Lobster Cantonese and spare ribs and beef and broccoli and egg rolls and rice and rice and rice. Can anybody really practice self control when they’re eating Chinese food? One appetizer and one entrée is probably enough for two people, so why is it so easy to get multiple appetizers and entrees? Is it because leftover Chinese food is just as good as it is fresh? I normally detest leftovers, but leftover Chinese food is my exception. Plus, there are so many options: Chicken! Beef! Shrimp! Spicy! Sweet! Umami? Seriously, the only way I used to eat vegetables as a child was when it was smothered in sauce poured over rice…
Sorry, I had to take a moment to go wipe the drool off my face.
This didn’t start out as an ode to Chinese food, so I’ll get back on track. To me it’s obvious why Jews love to eat Chinese food on Christmas: we are not Christians. Everyone who celebrates Jesus’ birthday is at home, you know, celebrating- including restaurant owners. Except owners of Chinese restaurants. And Jews. And Jews get hungry, and like to eat massive amounts of food and then send the leftovers home with their college-aged children who can’t cook for themselves. Cooking is for special occasions like Shabbat and Jewish holidays- and Christmas is not a Jewish holiday.
We live in a country that many people insist was founded as a Christian nation, although there is zero evidence for and tons against this notion (for more info on this and endless entertainment, see any time David Barton appears on The Daily Show). You can argue whether or not the Founding Fathers wanted America to be a Christian nation (they didn’t), but the fact remains that there are a lot of Christians in America (read: in the Southern United States) who believe this, basically making any non-Christians the outsiders. and this is without mentioning the “War on Christmas” Fox News has been so valiantly fighting for the last few years. So it seems to me, in the face of exclusion, the excluded say to each other every December 25th: “I like to eat, you like to eat, neither of us is doing anything tonight, so how about it?”
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