Meat and Wine
Meat and Wine
This chapter assesses how Jews faced particular problems in ‘carnivorous Europe’, where meat was eaten every day, servings were generous, and wine was drunk as though it were water. For Jews, consumption of meat and wine was conditional upon their preparation according to strict rules. Adherence to Jewish dietary law thus entailed waste: on the one hand, of animals which had been found to be unfit after ritual slaughter, and on the other, of remains which could not in any circumstances be eaten by Jews. As such, a Jewish community needed a far greater supply of animals than a Christian one, irrespective of the appetites or financial means of individuals. The cost of a pound of kosher meat would have been prohibitive if the relevant butcher had not been able to sell the rejected parts to Christian customers. In summary, then, the presence of a Jewish community in any town was always dependent on the regular availability of kosher meat. As with meat, Jewish law laid down precise rules defining kosher wine. Wine was inevitably found at the tables of the Italian Jews of the period, above all in such a great wine-producing and consuming area as Umbria, whose countryside is today still characterized by extensive vineyards.
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