Kosher in the Brochure
by Tom Conoboy
It doesn't say kosher in the brochure.
How can I know if it is? You can't be sure, can you? It's not something I can take a chance on, after all – it's my duty to get it right. Anyway, Dad would kill me. Accuse me of poisoning him. All sorts of shouting and fuss, all the neighbours watching and listening. Oh dear, it's all very troubling.
“It's okay, Mr Loewenstein,” the little girl in the Customer Service Centre said. A new lass, I doubt she even knew what she was talking about. “Don't you worry about it.”
And don't you worry about patronising a man three times your age and fifty times your experience, my dear.
“But if it doesn't say it, how can I know they do it?”
“Just phone them up, Mr Loewenstein. And explain your situation. They'll be able to advise you whether or not they do kosher meals-on-wheels.”
“But if they could do it, they'd have put it on the brochure, surely?”
“They can't think of every eventuality, can they, Mr Loewenstein?” She had one of those silly girly voices, those high-pitched singy-songy things, like she was a four-year-old playing “houses” with a three year old. It was just as well Dad wasn't here: he'd have put her over his knee by now. If he could remember where his knee was.
“It's not an eventuality, miss. It's a religion. And a religious observance. There are quite a lot of us about, you know.”
“Yes, I'm sure there are, Mr Loewenstein. Even here. And as I say...”
“And we have to be sure that what we're eating is kosher. It's not the same as you maybe choosing to avoid chickens because you don't like how they're kept...”
“I ate chicken only last night, Mr Loewenstein...”
“Was it good?”
“Delicious. Chicken breast with a mascarpone sauce.”
“Where did you get it from?”
“Morrison's. Only two pounds forty-nine a kilo...”
“Ah, now, you're pandering to a prejudice there, miss. Just because I'm Jewish, doesn't mean I'm obsessed with the cost of things.”
“No, but I'm from Yorkshire, Mr Loewenstein. I am.”
She was an attractive girl, I have to say. Pretty smile. Lovely teeth. Just about my son's height, maybe a bit smaller.
“It does seem quite cheap, now that you mention it. And a mascarpone sauce, you say? Did you make it yourself?”
“Oh yes, I do all my own cooking. I hate those sauces out of a jar, don't you? Too sweet.”
She was absolutely right. These packaged things taste of nothing but sugar and salt, not like the beautiful meals Rachel used to make. All of us would be gathered round the table as she unveiled it and mealtimes would last for hours. You get used to the packaged stuff after a while, though. In the end, everything starts to taste the same and it doesn't much matter what you're eating. Which brought me back to the matter in hand.
“So, do you think they might do kosher? Even if they don't say it on the brochure?”
“They're a very experienced company, Mr Loewenstein. Been working with us for many years. I'm quite sure they've had Jewish customers before. And Moslem too, I shouldn't wonder. Even Lankies, probably.”
She had a wicked smile. Quite mischievous, really, full of devilry. I expect she was a bit of a handful. She reminded me of Rachel when we were courting.
“Oh dear, not the Lankies,” I joked. “Tripe and onions and Eccles cake?”
I had no idea what that was, but I smiled politely. She was about the same age as my Paul, maybe a bit younger, with long dark hair. His last two girlfriends had had long dark hair. “So perhaps if I phone them up?”
“That would be the best starting point, Mr Loewenstein.”
She smiled again, her teeth gleaming beneath the striplights at the counter. She seemed such a bright girl, and helpful, too. I was sure she was doing her best. But, nonetheless, I couldn't help thinking of Dad, sitting alone in his house, that house the size of a family, waiting at the table for his supper. It was a son's job to make sure everything was in order. It had to be right.
He would know. From the smell of it, the look of it. It made no difference to me, but Dad was strict. These things mattered to him. I needed to stress the point.
All the same, she was a most helpful girl. Just the sort of friend my son would like. And attractive too. Most of them weren't, in this place. Mary, her name badge said. A good name. I'd remember her.
“Okay,” I said. “But maybe I need to come back tomorrow, just to check if you've found out any more.”
“You probably will, Mr Loewenstein. You do most days, don't you?”
A lovely girl. Very lovely. If my Paul ever comes home he could do much worse.
©2005 Tom Conoboy
Tom would love to hear what you think of his writing - email him now