Wondering if that imaginary animal you’re about to eat is kosher?

by tobybee

About 18 months ago I came across this blog post on Jeff Vandermeer’s website which presents us with answers to some serious kashrut questions that many of us have faced: which imaginary animals are kosher?

As they explain…

In honor of upcoming holidays like Passover, I thought I would ask Jeff’s better half, Ann VanderMeer, editor of Weird Tales , co-editor of New Weird and Steampunk, and a practicing Jew who teaches bat/bar mitzvah students, to give us an idea of which fantastical animals and beings would be kosher and which would not be kosher, in terms of gnawin’ off a bit o’ that. Answers below… – Evil Monkey

Abumi-Guchi (furry creatures formed from the stirrup of a mounted military commander) – Ann [with look of disbelief]: “Do they chew their prey?” EM: “I think so.” A: “Then no. Besides, the provenance is suspect.”

Aigi Kampoi (fish-tailed goat) – A: “Yes, that would be kosher because it has cloven hoofs, chews its cud, and has fins and scales. Although, it would still be considered a meat meal, even though it’s partially fish. So you can’t eat dairy with it.”

Amikiri (snake-bird-lobster) – A: “No. Absolutely not. The snake and lobster parts make it treyf.”

Arkan Sonney (fairy hedgehog) – A: “No, because hedgehogs aren’t kosher, so a fairy hedgehog wouldn’t be any different, monkey.” EM: “But they’re delicious!” A: “Even so.”

Baku (dream-devouring tapir) – A: “That’s considered a swine. It doesn’t chew its cud.” EM: “What if it was a dream-devouring cow? Would the dream-devouring disqualify it?” A: “No. As long as you don’t consider that scavenging.”

Brag (malevolent water horse) – A: “Horses are not kosher, no matter how aquatic.”

Bugbear (bearlike goblin) – A: “Bears have paws. Things with paws are not kosher. And they eat meat.” EM: “If it was a bear with hooves that chewed cud and the goblin part was just in its stomach, would it be kosher?” A: “Then it wouldn’t be a bear, idiot.”

Chupacabra – A: “It’s definitely a carnivore.” EM: “What if it’s just for show and they don’t eat their prey?” A: “Well I’m sure they don’t chew their cud and have cloven hooves unless the chupacabra turns out to be some kind of mutant cow.”

Cornish Owl-Man – A: “Unfortunately an owl is not kosher because it is a bird of prey–Lev. 11:17, and obviously you cannot eat a man because that is cannibalism.” EM: “Again, though–delicious!”

Dragon – A: “No reptiles or amphibians.” EM: “No exceptions? What about if it chews its cud?” A: “Shut up.”

Encantado (dolphin-human shapeshifter) – EM: “Surely it’s kosher when it’s a dolphin.” A: “A dolphin is a mammal just like you. It has no scales, even though it has fins. Besides, what if it starts changing while you’re eating it?”

ET – A: “…..?” EM: “It had cloven hooves.” A: “It’s a humanoid.” EM: “It looked like a pile of dung. It seemed to chew cud. Would any alien be automatically un-kosher?” A: “I guess it really depends on the alien–like a plant?” EM: “An alien that comes down to Earth.” A: “No, because they wouldn’t be considered an animal.” EM: “What if they looked just like a cow, but with a brain?” A: “Cows have brains.” EM: “Arggh!” A: “But cows don’t travel to other planets using their brains.” EM: “My point exactly!” A: “Anything intelligent is not kosher.”

Headless Mule (fire-spewing, headless, spectral mule) – A: “No, because the mule itself, even if it weren’t fire-breathing, isn’t kosher. The fire doesn’t cleanse it.” EM: “But it’s self-cooking!”

Hippocamp (horse-fish) – A: “Unfortunately, the horse part makes it treyf, and a little bit of treyf makes everything treyf. So if you had 99 percent fish and one percent horse it would still be treyf.” EM: “And a really fucked up looking hippocamp!”

Hobbits – A: “Not kosher at all. They are sentient beings.” EM: “That brings up a point. They’re actually not sentient because they’re not real, so aren’t they just as kosher as air.” Ann: “No comment.”

Hoopoe (rooster-swallow-chicken-snake-goose-lobster-stag-fish hybrid) – A: “The snake and the lobster make it unkosher–see Hippocamp above for percentages.”

Jackalope – A: “No, rabbits are not kosher.” EM: “Not even rabbits?!! Why not?” A: “Because although it chews the cud, it does not have hooves.”

Jaud (vampirized premature baby) – A: “Oh. Do I even have to tell you?” EM: “I guess not.” A: “Number one, a vampire drinks blood. Blood ingesting is a no-no. Number 2–baby?!?!”

Jotai (animated folding screen cloth) – A: “Sure, why not? It’s not a food item. Scarf it down to your heart’s delight. So long as it’s made from plant fibers, not a treyf animal. And only one type of fiber–no mixing of wool and linen.” EM: “Doesn’t sound too good…”

Man-Eating Tree – A: “Tree part yes, man-eating no, therefore treyf.”

Mermaid – A: “No, for the obvious reasons.” EM: “What if you marry one? Is that kosher? Will a rabbi marry you?” A: “Kosher is a term about eating, not about sex.” EM: “I’m not talking about sex–I’m talking about marriage!” A: “If the mermaid is Jewish, the rabbi will probably marry you. But only if you’re Jewish too. But you’ll definitely have to find the right rabbi…”

Mongolian Death Worm – A: “No, because you cannot eat anything that crawls on its belly.” EM: “Does that mean an injured kosher animal that is crawling along isn’t kosher any more?” A: “Yes, because you can’t eat an animal that’s been injured or is sick.” EM: “It’s a wonder you haven’t all starved to death.”

Pollo Maligno (cannibalistic chicken spirit) – A: “When you say cannibalistic, do you mean a chicken that eats other chickens or a chicken that eats humans?” EM: “When I say Pollo Maligno, I have no idea what I mean except I sound fierce.” A: “Well, chickens are kosher, but if it’s eating meat, probably not…” EM: “POLLO MALIGNO! POLLO MALIGNO!”

Pope Lick Monster – A: “I don’t know what that is.” EM: “I think it’s a monster that licks the Pope.” A: “If it’s licking the Pope, it’s probably treyf.”

Sasquatch – A: “What is sasquatch like?” EM: “I’d imagine kind of stringy.” A: “No, that’s not what I mean.” EM: “Kind of ape-like I guess.” A: “If it’s still undetermined, it might be kosher, but maybe not.”

Sea Monkeys – A: “Only if they have fins and scales. Wait a minute–aren’t they actually brine shrimp? Then no.” EM: “I don’t think so. The package shows these cute little things with human faces.” A: “Well, in that case…NO!”

Shedim (chicken-legged demon) – A: “If you have to eat a demon, you really ought to just go off and die somewhere.” EM: “Good point.”

Vegetable Lamb of Tartary – A: “Oh, absolutely kosher! Vegetables are kosher and lambs are kosher! Nice combination. How about some mint with that meal!”

Now, according to Jewcy, a book by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer entitled The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals: The Evil Monkey Dialogues exploring this subject in more depth is soon to be published. You can find explorations of more animals here. It’s sure to be the addition to our kosher guides that we’ve been desperately missing…