Thursday, February 16, 2006


On the last day of the RCA convention last May, I had the pleasure of eating lunch with the rabbi of Basel, Switzerland (whom I have known for a number of years) and the rabbi of Torino, Italy (whom I then met for the first time). I mentioned to the rabbi of Torino (sorry, I don't remember his name) how his city has such an impressive history of great Torah scholars -- the Rid (R. Yishayahu of Trani), the Riaz (R. Yishayahu of Trani II, the former's grandson), and the Mabit (R. Moshe di Trani). He gently corrected me: Torino is Turin, not Trani. Trani is another city in Italy, much more famous and with a long Jewish history. Well, not more famous anymore.

He mentioned that the city imports a specific cow from South America to make a special mozzarella from its milk that is only available in Torino. He is in charge of ensuring the cheese's kosher status. Personally, I doubt that I would know the difference between one mozzarella and another, but this cheese is very much in demand among his congregants. Which brings me to the next part of this relatively pointless post. At the aforementioned lunch, I was eating some sort of mixed salad with fancy dressing and commented how amazing the lunch tasted. The rabbis of Basel and Torino shook their heads in unison and remarked jokingly about the bland American palate. Not that they didn't like the lunch; it just evidently wasn't "amazing" to people from countries where the hamburger is not the national food.

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