Friday, May 25, 2007

Beeg animals

First a word of background: bugs, they are not kosher. At all. Worse than pigs, in fact. Got that? Good. So, one checks bug-prone produce for bugs, and either they are buggy or they are not. It is very rare to find a single bug, in my experience anyway.

On Purim, as you may recall, we ate by the home of some friends of ours from Israel. The father of the family, who is from Bnai Brak, got up and gave, while not entirely sober, a Purim drasha, on whether or not it is muttar to eat in the homes of people who you know do not sift flour. In Israel, everyone sifts flour, because there are bugs and we do not eat bugs. But here, here in chutz la'aretz? People do not sift flour. Why? Is it because there are no bugs in the flour? No! There are bugs! Here, my wife sifts the flour, and we have seen them! Animals in the flour! Beeg animals! Beeg animals in the flour! And here, the people ARE EATING THEM!

I sat there listening and thought, hmm, I don't sift my flour. I used to, because I used to live in a place where grain moths are endemic. But where I live now I have never found a bug, except for once when the entire bag was clearly infested. There's never been a case where I had a bag of flour that looked fine but, when sifted, turned out buggy. Sifting a five-pound bag of flour by hand every week when you are not finding anything gets old fast. So a couple of years ago, I stopped sifting.

This made me feel guilty, though, and on my next trip to Target I bought a sifter. Then, we invited the family over for Shabbos. I made challah. I thought, okay, I'd better sift the flour.

And what did I find?

You guessed it.

A beeg animal in my flour!

I was so excited I called my friend. "You'll never guess what I found! I found an animal in the flour!"


"I found a big animal in the flour, like your husband was talking about!"

"Ani lo m'vina."

I explained, and I still think she thought I was nuts. Especially when I put the bug in a ziploc bag to show my husband. "Look! A beeg animal!" My accent got distinctly Israeli. "A beeg animal in da flowa!"

"Yes, and so, there are always bugs in flour."

"But I would never have sifted it if it hadn't been for your husband's drasha! He saved us all from eating treif challah!"


I still haven't tossed the ziploc. Because it is not every day that one finds beeg animals in one's flowa.


Juggling Frogs said...

One time, I was in a hurry, so I made a package of Near East Rice Pilaf. I tossed the rice contents in the bowl, smushed it around a bit, absent-mindedly, and went to measure the water to add.

Something interrupted me... (unprecedented event in our family...NOT)

When I came back from -whatever- with the measured water, I looked in the bowl, and some of those par-boiled rice grains were squiggling!

Some of those rice grains - weren't rice.

They must have been some type of larva for beetles, but they were the same size and shape as their cousins, the rice.

In the many years since then, I have NEVER been in too much of a hurry to check the rice.

jasmin said...

My grandmother in Iran used to pick over the rice every week or so, because it did not come in nice modern packages but got scooped out of a big container at the grocer's. There were a lot of broken grains, which she fished out (why?) as well as bits of grain or grass, and very small bits of rock. Of course the rice got washed multiple times before being actually cooked, too. It's one of my childhood memories, her sitting on the floor with the big round tray in front of her: scoop of rice, shake shake, pick pick, more shaking and picking over, and put into another container. Repeat.

I've never sifted my flour, though, unless the recipe specifically called for it. Often not even then.