Impossible pork and family secrets

Muslim writer Aymann Ismail tries Impossible Pork for the first time, after a lifetime of halal-living. Michele Dawson Haber and her sister Ruti grew up with a pretty great step-father, but never really knew her biological father. A stash of letters changed that.
Slate writer Aymann Ismail turned Impossible Pork, a pork alternative meat product, into kofta kebabs. Ismail was not exactly happy with the results. (Submitted by Aymann Ismail)

Dietary laws in religion might not make a lot of sense to a non-believer. Why would a supreme being care whether or not I eat … pork?  And the believer would respond: It's more meaningful than God inspecting what's on your plate. 

Writer Aymann Ismail has gone a lifetime of mostly halal-living, but the highly engineered pork substitute Impossible Pork gives him the opportunity to poke a toe into the pork-saturated reality of North American life. While Impossible Pork is leagues away from actual meat, it purports to taste and feel like actual ground pork, which makes it more spiritually problematic. The closer a substitute gets to being pork, the closer it gets to violating the spirit of Muslim dietary rules.

Ismail talks about trying Impossible Pork for the first time, and why can be a personal challenge. He's joined by cookbook author Leah Koenig, reflecting on eating pork and Jewishness.

Meanwhile, Michele Dawson Haber and her sister Ruti grew up with a pretty great step-father. But whenever they asked questions about their biological father their mom would be evasive. She'd never give them a straight answer. Then one day Michele and Ruti found out their mom had kept a box full of letters from him — and thought it was time to get some answers after a lifetime of questions.


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