Try as you may, it’s impossible find a recipe for pork in Jewish cuisine. Pork is among numerous foods forbidden by Jewish law because it is not ‘kosher’, a word with deep meaning and long history, with pork in particular playing a critical role in defining which foods Jewish people should and should not eat.
In Jewish tradition, the meaning of “kosher” goes back to the Bible. Leviticus and Deuteronomy explain that any land animal that both “chews the cud” and has a “cloven hoof” is considered “clean”, but animals that only “chew the cud” or only have “cloven hooves” are “unclean”. Both passages explicitly identify pigs as being unclean because they have cloven hooves, but they do not chew the cud (in other words they are ruminants).
Further historical events helped solidify the pig’s position on the Jewish do-not-eat list. For example, the Greeks forced the Jews to slaughter pigs during the persecutions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Later, the Roman legion responsible for the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple had a boar for its emblem thus adding further weight to the pig’s bad name.
Philosophers and anthropologists lend further insight into why pork is not kosher. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides argued that Jewish dietary laws were meant to protect peoples’ health, with the meat of non-kosher animals like pig being unwholesome.Anthropologist Marvin Harris further added that because pigs are not ruminants but instead carnivorous omnivores, they not only compete with humans for expensive food, but will also eat unclean food like refuse and garbage making pork an unsavoury prospect for human consumption.
It all adds up to pig having a pretty poor reputation in Jewish culture, and explains why any book on Jewish cooking will be completely devoid of a recipe for pork. The pig is not alone, however. Other non-kosher land animals include the camel, hyrax and hare.