Kosher locusts on offer at Jewish food festival, Gefiltefest

Locusts are a lesser known kosher treat

Locusts are a lesser known kosher treat - Credit: Archant

A crunchy locust sounds better in a biblical plague than served up as gourmet cuisine. But next week, at the country’s largest Jewish food festival, a rabbi will reveal that the insects can be a delicious kosher treat.

The best bagel in the UK will also be named at the Gefiltefest food festival at the London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC) in Ivy House, North End Road, Golders Green, on Sunday.

The event will have more than 75 stalls and a MasterChef-style cook off.

Michael Leventhal, who organises the festival and lives in East Finchley, said: “Kosher laws set down what animals you can eat and which animals you cannot eat.

“It is well known that Jews don’t eat pork and shellfish, but there are certain foods that are kosher that are more unusual or that are quite hard to get hold of – giraffe, bison and locusts.

“In some Jewish communities in Israel they have a tradition of eating locusts when there is a locust storm.”

The talk on locusts will be given by Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski of Golders Green Synagogue.

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“We don’t know whether or not Rabbi Belovski will be eating them,” said Mr Leventhal.

“He’s keeping it a secret.”

Kosher laws are dietary rules outlined in the Old Testament proscribing which foods can be eaten and how animals should be killed and prepared. There are also rules against mixing meat and milk.

As well as more unusual kosher foods there will also be traditional Jewish cuisine on the menu such as gefilte fish, a pickled fish, matzo balls, a type of dumpling specifically eaten at the Passover festival, and the braided bread challah, which is eaten to welcome in the Friday night Sabbath.

With such a range of flavours and new dishes to sample, organisers are keen to attract both non-Jewish as well as Jewish community members.

“Everyone eats, so food is a wonderful way of bringing people together,” said Mr Leventhal.

A fish curry will also surprise the audience as chef Nikita Gulhane, who has researched the food of one of the only Jewish communities in India, cooks the lesser-known dish.

“Like so many Jewish foods, it’s a fusion,” said Mr Leventhal.

“Jewish dishes are a fusion of where the Jews have travelled to and then their own traditions and what is available locally.”

The symbol of the festival, the aubergine, has a dramatic culinary history.

“It goes back to the fact that through the aubergine you can tell history,” said Mr Leventhal.

“An anti-Semitic slur was to be called ‘aubergine-eyed’.

“And when Jews couldn’t get kosher meat they would often cook with aubergine instead because it is very meaty.”

n The festival runs from 9.30am to 7pm and tickets can be bought on the LJCC’s website for £25.