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How do we know precisely what foods fall under the "King's Table" exemption to the rule against Bishul Akum? It is obvious that foods like potato chips probably won't be served at a state dinner, and foods like steak would, but what about foods in between? I'm curious because considering how fancy the menu is for state dinners, it would seem like most foods would fall outside the prohibition. Is there any list of what is allowed to be cooked by a non-Jew under the state dinner exemption, or should I call the White House (or Israeli president's residence or Buckingham palace) each time I have a question?

  • Wow, that looks like a good dinner...how do you get an invite? :P – Shokhet Jul 13 '14 at 20:39
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I wouldn't look at the menu so much as any given food ingredient. And yes, the OU and Star-K have called the White House kitchen, the Royal Danish kitchen, and others. Generally speaking -- "would you use canned X?" "No, we'd only cook it fresh ourselves?" (The Star-K had asked about canned cranberry sauce; the OU had asked about baked beans.)

  • So then lentils from scratch are considered fit for a "King's Table"? That seems ludicrous. Surely these rules were written long before mass produced and/or preserved foods... – Charles Koppelman Jul 14 '14 at 2:46
  • @CharlesKoppelman not sure I understand your point. If I walk into a vegan restaurant where a non-Jew has cooked lentils from scratch, then as far as I can see that would be a serious Bishul Akum issue. (We focus on the main ingredient, lentils; regardless of how/if they're seasoned.) Whereas my grocery store may carry OU pre-cooked, vacuum-sealed lentils; not a Bishul Akum issue. The rule was set as "whatever is good enough for a state function", and has some local subjectivity to it. (The Star-K talks about foods that would be good enough to stand alone in some countries, but not in others.) – Shalom Jul 15 '14 at 9:11
  • I thought that plain lentils (chickpeas?) were specifically allowed. I've heard people cite that regarding Ester. – Charles Koppelman Jul 15 '14 at 16:45

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