In an ideal world the only thing we could really complain about with this one is that Trader Joe’s is actually recommending that you actually use a microwave to poach eggs. Yeah well, you could also visit the Louvre via its website. And yes, sometimes there is no other option, and we get that.
Do you know what we also get? Annoyed, when we see yet another example of a company trying very hard to downplay a product’s Israeli origins, for fear of pissing off people who get off on demonizing Israel for a litany of spurious reasons.
And yes, we are taking about shakshuka: the popular Israeli breakfast dish that consists of a couple of poached eggs in a zesty tomato-based sauce bordering on what used to be called a stew.
Trader Joe’s, which famously makes bank on culinary cultural appropriation, glibly glosses over the dish’s Israeli chops by referencing it as a “certified foodie phenomenon” while failing to mention that shakshuka traces its origins as a coherent dish to the ancient Jewish communities of North Africa, whose members brought it with them when they kicked out and migrated to Israel. Shakshuka’s early Ottoman Turkish origins are much more difficult to ascertain than its fruition as a totally Israeli dish. Furthermore, it’s slow food-modern rebirth as a de rigueur delicacy is still largely contained to Israel. Credit growing global shakshuka awareness to the widespread publicity of Tel Aviv’s hot restaurant scene.
And so in addition to Trader’s Joe’s calculated factual fuck up, we have on our hands a little racism problem too, and that’s because it is now widely accepted that to be anti-Israel is also to be anti-Semitic. There is no way that the omission of the fact of shakshuka’s Israeli status could be accidental.
So what is Trader Joe’s tryna do here? Duh: they are afraid that to even write the word “Israel” in connection with this product (and probably any other coming from Israel) might offend some of its consumers and lead to calls for boycotts by the likes of dingbat freak supporters of Rashida Tlaib.
But would it be kosher to speak about pizza as a “certified foodie phenomenon” without mentioning Italy?
Or to talk about sushi without mentioning Japan? (and uh, did you you know that sushi actually has origins in southeast Asia? yeah…but if you’re talking about sushi in the modern sense, you’re talking about Japan. Ya follow?)
Or, for that matter, to talk about Germany and the special responsibility that business leaders in that country have to do the opposite of Jew-shaming, if only by omission, products with Israeli and Jewish origins?
Those questions are rhetorical, but German-owned Trader Joe’s must be taken to task over this. Yes, World War Two is over, but Germany still owes Greece a ton of money, still has stolen artwork to return to rightful owners, will never be able to apologize enough, and cannot be forgiven in whole or in part for these kinds of insults.
Shakshuka is Israeli, and it should be described as such in promotional materials. Maybe even celebrated. #ShakshukaPride, you know. Something. Anything but this wanton and unsavory Teutonic-corporate obfuscation.
We wouldn’t buy Trader Joes’ Shakshuka Starter on grounds of its silly, Americanized name alone, but again, bastardization of foreign food items is not an impeachable offense. But we cannot condone a German company’s crafty maneuvers to hide a product’s Jewishness, and we don’t think you should either.
By the way, you want a good shakshuka? Go for it.