Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals

Jeff VanderMeer • April 17th, 2008 @ 6:15 pm • Evil Monkey


(Kosher?)

UPDATE: The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals will be published in February 2010, hopefully in time for Purim! You can preorder it here. It is a lavishly illustrated book with humorous descriptions of all of the beasts on display, with an intro by Ann, a forward by Joseph Nigg, the bestselling author of How to Raise and Train and Dragon, and a discussion about imaginary animal recipes with Food Network star Duff Goldman. It’s a 5 x 7 small-sized hardcover–the perfect gift.

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!”

EM: “And monkeys aren’t kosher, right?”
A: “You certainly aren’t.”

UPDATE: If not coming here from Boing Boing, check out additional comments on their post about, er, this post.

Also, want more silliness? Check out beer-book pairings with Arianna Huffington, Michael Chabon, and others.

152 Responses to “Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals”

  1. Annalee says:

    Damn, there goes my plan for dragon brisket on Passover.

  2. Larry says:

    Sad to say, but reading all this makes me hungry. But at least I chuckled/laughed quite a bit reading it :D And of course, Happy Passover!

  3. Felix Gilman says:

    Is it actually the case that Jewish dietary law explicitly provides that you cannot eat non-human sentient beings, e.g. hobbits (and arguably Sasquatch)? I suspect not. I smell a loophole.

  4. Felix Gilman says:

    I ask out of purely academic interest, it makes no difference to me, I eat my hobbits wrapped in bacon and topped with melted cheese anyway.

  5. Eddie Duff says:

    Cannibalistic chicken spirit… LOL!!

  6. Matt Staggs says:

    I need to save this and spring it on my gaming group…

  7. Luí­s Rodrigues says:

    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.”

    What if it’s a really lazy animal?

  8. Phelix says:

    The line about the pollo maligno made me spit mint tea out my nose. I’m not sure if I’m pleased or not, but I’m still laughing. :D

  9. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Felix: Like, whole hobbits?

    Luis: I’ll leave it up to Ann to answer that…

    Jeff

  10. Phil says:

    Brilliant! What an excellent way for me to start my morning. Thanks!

  11. Felix Gilman says:

    Like, whole hobbits?

    Not all by myself — a bacon-wrapped hobbit serves a dinner party of 6.

    I’m still not convinced that Jewish dietary law makes explicit provision for non-human sentients, by the way. I take it humans are protected from eating by general prohibitions against murder, etc. But does traditional Jewish cosmology even recognize the existence of any non-human sentients? The Nephilim were already long-dead, and the question of whether or not one could eat them would be moot. Angels, I suppose, are non-human sentients, but as messengers of god they would presumably have a sort of proto-diplomatic immunity. What else is there?

    Can you eat angels? I urge you to ask a rabbi.

  12. J M McDermott says:

    What about the Loch Ness Monster?

  13. Ann V. says:

    Felix, you CANNOT eat angels. Whether you see them in dreams or wrestle with them in real life. (and besides, are they really imaginary creatures? Lots of people believe that they are real)

    And Loch Ness Monster? Sorry, J.M. Water animals must have fins and scales – no reptiles…. (and ditto the “real” issue – there have been sightings, after all)

    Now that I really think about it (because, you see, I have ALL this time), there aren’t very many imaginary animals that ARE kosher. I wonder why that is……..

    Ann V.

  14. Henry says:

    Yes, I agree. That was great.

  15. McJulie says:

    On the subject of cannibal chickens: a few years ago we had a neighbor who wanted to keep chickens, didn’t do any research into how this was done, and the end result was chickens that always got out of their pens and terrorized the neighborhood.

    One morning I caught the chickens on the back porch eating chicken that I had put there for the cats. I freaked out and ran around the house screaming about crazy cannibal chickens.

    My husband, who used to raise chickens, assured me that cannibalism was normal chicken behavior.

  16. Felix Gilman says:

    I wonder if there’s a market for a kosher version of the Book of Imaginary Beings.

    (The Fauna of Mirrors, it seems to me (admittedly, as a non-expert) would not be treyf solely by virtue of their mirror-nature, but would be kosher or treyf according to what they are reflections of — the Fish of the Mirror would be kosher, the Tiger presumably not).

  17. Andrew says:

    What about a griffin?

  18. Matt S. says:

    Felix, AnnV., you’re both making me think of a very different revision of Paul Gauguin’s “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel” (http://www.arts-oilpaintings.com/AD/p_detail_G1022.html).

    Maybe “Jacob Wrestling the Angel into a Rotisserie Oven”?

  19. yeff (Jeff Soesbe) says:

    Awesome!

    A: “If it’s licking the Pope, it’s probably treyf.”

    Yet another reason why George W. Bush is treyf.

    – yeff

  20. Steve says:

    That was seriously excellent

  21. tsu says:

    “Kosher is a term about eating, not about sex.”

    Well, actually, not so – “kosher” just means “fit,” as in “fit for use, appropriate,” so yeah, there is such a thing as kosher sex.

    That said: lol. And, what about the phoenix? Does anyone know what the phoenix eats?

  22. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    It actually means “clean”. There is no such thing as a kosher person for marriage. Um, discuss? LOL!

    JV

  23. Bernard Peek says:

    I’m not sure about the Jotai. There’s a prohibition against wearing mixed fibres but does that extend to eating them? Breakfast cereal contains fibre. Is a cereal containing wheat and rice treyf? If so then black rye bread with caraway seed must be treyf too, surely?

  24. Alex says:

    Griffin would be treyf because the lion part is a meat-eater, and the bird part is usually conceived as a bird of prey (sometimes specifically an eagle). So no griffin, gryphon, or griffin for Passover.

  25. Kosher Imaginary Animals » Needcoffee.com says:

    [...] to eat but a cryptid of some sort, and you’re keeping kosher, what’s off limits? Never fear: Evil Monkey is here and has consulted an expert. Pope Lick Monster – A: “I don’t know what that is.” EM: “I think it’s a monster that licks the [...]

  26. Firebee says:

    Sasquatch can’t be kosher. They’re apes, and probably sentient too.

  27. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Oh–and you know this for sure? They could be shambly tree beings that just LOOK like apes. ;)
    JV

  28. Larry says:

    What about Manbearpig? Or is that one “real” because Al Gore saw it on an episode of South Park?

  29. pwscott says:

    Check out a few rare pics I found. Anyone got a legend behind some of these.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22719236@N02/

  30. lighthill says:

    Even if the headless mule were a headless cow, it wouldn’t be kosher: being headless it can’t possibly chew its cud.

    Even if it _could_ somehow chew its cud with no head, there’s no way you could slaughter it in a kosher manner, since it would have no neck for you to cut.

  31. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    That’s a very good point. Well, I mean, it would still have a neck. You could cut it again, I guess, but if it wasn’t already dead, I doubt another neck cut would do much good. meanwhile, it’s spewing fire at you from its neck.

    What a weird creature to come up with. I think that one was Brazilian.

    JV

  32. Marcianitos Verdes » ¿Son kosher los seres imaginarios? says:

    [...] http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2008/04/17/evil-monkey%E2%80%99s-guide-to-kosher-imaginary-animals/ [...]

  33. Bob the Mole says:

    I don’t think the vegetable lamb in the picture has cloven hooves.

  34. SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): Torchwood Ends and Doctor Who Returns; A Cylon Civil War; An Aging Starlet?; and a Special Passover Feature - Liberal Values - Defending Liberty and Enlightened Thought says:

    [...] various animals in  fantasy literature have you ever wondered if their meat is kosher? If so, Ecstatic Days has the ultimate [...]

  35. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    OMG! You’re right!!! Then what kinda lamb is it?!

  36. Tori says:

    I’m not Jewish, but what about ROUS? From The Princess Bride?

  37. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Ha! Nope–no rodent is kosher. Crunchy, though…

  38. Joshua Zelinsky says:

    The kashtrut of mythological creatures has been a pet issue of mine for sometime. I will take the time to point that this list is wrong about hobbits; sentience does not a priori make something not kosher. In fact humans are only not kosher due to a rabbinic prohibition. From a strictly torahdic perspective humans are kosher (the rabbis understandably decided this was ridiculous). This leads to a number of interesting issues like if a Jew is starving and has an option of eating a human corpse or a pig according to some opinions they should eat the corpse since that would entail breaking only a rabbinic commandment rather than one from the torah. (This has more practical consequences as well – if one is say cutting vegetables into a soup and you cut yourself and a drop of blood falls into the soup according to many opinions you don’t have to kasher the pot. However, if it were a drop of pig blood you would have to).

    So the real question about whether hobbits are kosher is whether or not they are close enough to being human that they would fall under the rabbinic injunction making humans unkosher.

  39. Art Machine » Blog Archive » Geek conversations worth having says:

    [...] with otherwise innocent private contractors and full-time support employees. Ladies and gentlemen: Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals. Mermaid – A: “No, for the obvious reasons.” EM: “What if you marry one? Is that kosher? [...]

  40. klenow says:

    [...]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?!?!”[...]

    I think I would have reversed that order, personally.

    What about shape shifters? Non-intelligent, but shape shifting. Say it was a lobster at one point, but you waited around until it shape shifted into a sheep or something (and got out of the water)….Could you eat it?

    (laughed my ass off, BTW; thanks)

  41. Johnsenclan » Blog Archive » Links 4/18/08 says:

    [...] imaginary animals are [...]

  42. Rampant Bicycle says:

    Weekend Report: Pixeljunk from Botany Bay…

    Things that irritate me this morning:1) Somewhere, somehow, I have lost the little soft squidgy ear-bit from one of my earphones.  The right one. For some reason, whenever anything goes wrong with my headphones it always seems to be the ‘phone for th…

  43. Simon says:

    So, would a soul-eater be kosher? TECHNICALLY, it’s not it doesn’t eat meat… it eats the souls of other creatures… and what about a unicorn? It has hooves… cloven hooves… see? So, how about it?

  44. Kokapelye says:

    HREF=”http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/דוכיפת#.D7.A7.D7.99.D7.A9.D7.95.D7.A8.D7.99.D7.9D_.D7.97.D7.99.D7.A6.D7.95.D7.A0.D7.99.D7.99.D7.9D”>Hoopoesare already covered in Shemini:

    “The following you shall abominate among the birds –they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, and the black vulture … [several treyf species of bird]… the stork; herons of every variety; the hoopoe, and the bat.” [Leviticus 11:13-19, JPS translation]

    What I want to know is, are barnacle geese barnacles or geese?

  45. dee says:

    I love this so much! Absolutely brilliant. My favorite part is the Pope Lick Monster. Love it.

  46. Stu Shiffman says:

    Absolutely meshugah, my friends! Well-done (please).

    But how well does dragon go with matzoh, horseradish and choroset?

  47. Kevin Andrew Murphy says:

    Hmm, a few others….

    What about the Catoblepas? Topsell has it pictured like a scaled sheep wearing a yak toupee, but Borges has a somewhat different description, with the body of a water buffalo but the head of a warthog. Either version has a death-ray gaze, and one appeared to talk to St. Anthony when he was stoned in the desert.

    The Phoenix. Nests in Egyptian palm trees, self-roasting.

    And of course the Unicorn. Definitely has cloven hooves. The horseyness depends on the illustrator.

    If kosher, Noah’s story about the unicorn “missing the arc” might be suspect. What exactly did Noah and family eat for Passover?

  48. Megan says:

    I enjoyed reading this, but I have a couple of quibbles…

    1.)“Kosher is a term about eating, not about sex.” Kosher means “proper” in Hebrew, and it’s used in all areas of Jewish law. So you can still figure out whether or not it would be kosher to boink or marry a mermaid ;).

    2.) “Although, it would still be considered a meat meal, even though it’s partially fish.” Observant Jews would not consider this a kosher meal, since it’s improper to eat fish with meat.

    That being said, that’s what you get for dating Orthodox Jews and being an obsessive Shiksa ;).

  49. Randy Miller says:

    Can’t I have just a little bacon??????

  50. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Only if it’s wrapped around a hobbit, Randy?

    Megan–thanks for stopping by. Ann’ll respond later!
    Jeff

  51. J M McDermott says:

    As a vegetarian, I’ve often wondered if I could eat Ent.

    I think they’re kosher.

    I don’t know if I could eat an Ent I liked particularly well. However, if I didn’t particularly like one, and perhaps if the Ent in question was not particularly smart, I would probably feel no guilt for boiling its roots and making tea from the bark.

    Also, isn’t the entire meatless soy protein section of the grocery store something resembling Clarkesian magical?

    KOSHER Soy Bacon! Pepperoni that doesn’t give you terrible gas!

  52. J M McDermott says:

    Oh, and manticores may have human heads and lion’s bodies, but they start their lives as fruit growing on an Upas tree.

    Thus, I vote that baby manticores are kosher. (If you can survive the poison…)

  53. Mark A. Mandel says:

    Abumi-Guchi … A: “Then no. Besides, the providence is suspect.”

    Providence is not suspect. But the provenance of these thingies is.

  54. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    I notice you don’t cover unicorns.

    Now while the popular image of the unicorn is the horse with a horn in it’s forehead – therefore treyf – the original description of the unicorn combined elements of antalope, goats, and rinos. Plus there’s a Chinese version that is a dragon with a single horn in it’s forehead, said to have spoken to Confusius’ mom when she was pregnant with him. (Please forgive the bad misspellings, people, spelling is not my forte.) The latter unicorn is obviously not kosher, but what about the antalope/goat/rino version?

    And what about phoinex? Is the legendary firebird kosher?

  55. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hmm–didn’t know that about the unicorn. I think we thought the headless fire-spewing mule covered those variations.

    Jeff

  56. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    Jeff, I’m pretty much a queen of useless trivia. I know multiple ways to repell or kill a vampire – besides the usual book/movie methods. So I knew different versions of unicorns existed. Heck, the curly horn thing didn’t start until people started killing narwals for their one tusk and selling them as unicorn horns. Beside that they were more like rino horns, but where black at the base, crimson in the middle, and white at the top.

    My computer’s slow so I didn’t scroll through all the comments before now. I just went straight to the bottom. So I’m a bit embarassed that I asked about things people already asked about.

    BTW – I vote that Hobbits are not kosher because they are omivores like humans. They eat both plant and meat products. And doesn’t it say to be kosher the potential food in question cannot eat any meat? I suppose a full vegitarian hobbit would be fair game, but I wouldn’t want to eat them all the same.

    Now most people protray elves at vegitarians, so maybe they’re kosher, however in many of the fairy tales I’ve read elves eat meat too. That’s why they steal cows and chickens. And they kidnap humans cause most of them are sterile and can’t have children of their own.

    Brownies though only eat milk, poriage, butter, cream, and drink beer. So I suppose they could be kosher, but who’d want to eat a housekeeper who works for so cheap?

    I don’t know what Leprecons eat. I do know that they’re awesome shoemakers.

    Orges eat people, so do giants, so those, in my opinion, are treyf.

    But I’m not an expert. I wasn’t lucky enough to be raised Jewish. Though my maternal ancestry is Jewish – my maternal great-grandparents – on both mom’s paternal and maternal sides – converted and became Catholic to escape persecution. So I’m just taking what I know from all the studying I’ve done to try and understand the world my great-grandparents were originally part of. The more I read and understand, however, makes me wish I had been raised Jewish instead of protestant. (Mom didn’t like being Catholic.)

    I think that things being kosher or not also depends on how familiar the people are with the animal in question. I understand in places where the turkey is not a native bird, it’s consider unkosher, for instance. So I think that would have a huge effect on if an alien being is kosher or not.

  57. Kevin Andrew Murphy says:

    Actually, the Asian unicorn is the Ki-rin, as seen on Japanese beer bottles, and I believe that does have cloven hooves, and it’s a “dragon” insomuch as it’s a Foo Creature–like the foo dogs, foo lions and foo horses which are glitzed up with some scales and other ornaments but aren’t exactly dragons.

    Of course with beer bottle creatures, Corona has the cockatrice, the legendary king of serpents, but of course those are hatched from the egg of a cockerel incubated by a toad, so it could be argued that they’re still chickens. Scaly-tailed bat-winged chickens that breathe pestilence and kill people at a glance, but chickens all the same. One assumes that the serpents declared the cockatrice king because any serpent that brought up the parentage (egg of a male bird adopted by an amphibian) would probably end up dead.

    Then there’s the basilisk version of the cockatrice where it’s an eight-legged lizard but with the same parentage.

  58. Ian S. says:

    I wonder, would a minotaur be kosher?

  59. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    I doubt it, Ian. Minotaurs eat people. Same as giants, orges, orcs, and cyclops. And flesh eaters aren’t kosher.

  60. Phelan says:

    Ah, yes, gryphons…
    COnstructed, in most cases, from a pair of predatory animals, generally a lion and an eagle. Both are flesh-eaters known to eat carrion in times of need, both considered unclean by default.

    So, I don’t think traditional gryphons are kosher…

  61. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    Kevin – I knew it had a special name, but the books I’ve seen it in always call it “The Chinese Unicorn.”

    I work in a library so I see a lot of books and sometimes I even get to read them.

  62. Kimothy T. Squirrel says:

    What about the *Golem*? I mean, sheesh. Of all things to be forgotten in this discussion. Ya’ know? Made of clay? Rips people limb from limb? But have you ever heard of it eating anything, including meat?

    Hence, I say, kosher.

    Mmmm. Claaayyyy.

  63. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Golems ain’t kosher. Besides, I think they’d taste like crap!

  64. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    But why would you want to eat the one creature protecting you from the Blood Lie?

    And I don’t remember anything in any of the versions I read of him ripping people limb from limb. He was more like – a clay Sherlock Holmes – tracking down the evil doers. Only getting violent when the evil doers’ buddies all attacked the getto.

    I’m trying to think of other mythical beings. Let’s see, vampires, werewolves/foxes/tigers/bears/ohmy, those seals that turn into people who’s name I can’t remember at the moment – oh, there’s this kind of horse that gallops along the seashore and anyone who tries to ride it ends up being drowned, Red Hats, will-o-wisps, Pookas, Banshees, the Medusa, Sirens….

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’m pretty sure they’re all not kosher, however.

    Oh, what about mandrake roots? Seeing how the myth is that they come about from the – ahem – release of a certain fluid from hanged men – are mandrake roots kosher?

  65. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    I hope you don’t mind a URL. I did a quick Wikipedia search and found a list of various mythical/fictional beings –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_animals_%28other%29

    Including such things as the Deer Woman, Fur Bearing Trout, and of course the Behemoth. (He’s in the Talmud, is he kosher?)

  66. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Yes–I used part of that list, but there was a lot of repetition in terms of type. Although maybe it was a list of “mythical animals.” I don’t mind a URL–my spam jammer sometimes does!

    JV

  67. Rich says:

    ‘A: “Anything intelligent is not kosher.”’

    I don’t recall intelligence being a factor d’oraita, so is there a source d’rabbanan for intelligence ruling it out as food if it meets other requirements. I know that eating something intelligent carries a big squick factor, but that alone does not render something non-kosher – Locusts squick us, but are kosher.

    On the headless mule – even if it were a headless cow, its headlessness would render it torn unless it had been properly shechted.

    On the Hippocamp, wouldn’t 1/60th or less of horse be m’vateil, therefore allowing it to be declared kosher?

    Hobbits – No cloven hooves, no chewing cud (unless you count reflux following those parties) – Sentience needn’t enter in. Again I’d like to know the source that sentience renders something non-kosher.

    Jackalope – While it is true that most have an antelope head on a rabbit body, and therefore lack the cloven hooves, what if it were the other way around and a cud-chewing rabbit head were on a cloven hoofed antelope body? To the contention that a Rabbit does not truly chew its cud, I reply that if it had an antelope body, it would because antelopes have the cud chewing equipment.

    The question of diet (man eating tree, minotaur) seems like it SHOULD enter the picture, but according to the OU, it doesn’t. I once asked them if feeding bone meal to a cow, rendering it a de-facto carnivore, made it unkosher, and the insisted that diet does not matter.

    A flesh Golem of a kosher animal, made according to the Sefer Yetzirah is kosher d’rabbanan.

  68. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    I still want to know if the behemoth and levithan are kosher. Oh, to help find other Jewish mytical creatures –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Jewish_legendary_creatures

    And to find more creatures from any culture –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Legendary_creatures_by_culture

    I really, really like this article/blog. Someone linked to it on the View Askew board cause they liked the comment about the chubacabra. Now I’m just addicted to this. Heh.

  69. Which imaginary animals are kosher? | DC Forex Newscaster says:

    [...] Link [...]

  70. Daltonultra says:

    Actually, humans, hobbits, dwarves, orcs, goblins, et al, are all treyf. They are all omnivores. Their specie eat meat.
    Elves on the other hand, are vegetarian by most conventions, so appear to be kosher. Dig in…

    BTW, I found a Wiki on the Pope Lick Monster…

    “The Pope Lick Monster is a half-man and half-goat or half-sheep cryptid reported to live beneath a Norfolk Southern Railway trestle over Pope Lick Creek, in the Fisherville area of Louisville, Kentucky. According to legend, the creature uses hypnosis to lure trespassers onto the trestle to meet their death before an oncoming train.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Lick_Monster

  71. Daltonultra says:

    http://www.louisvilleghs.com/LGHS_MASTER/SUB/Legends/Pope%20Lick/The%20Legend%20of%20Pope%20Lick.html

    http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1427755

    And BTW, I withdraw the Elves thing, they don’t chew cud, and don’t have cloven hooves…

    BTW, A hippocamp would be treyf, but what about a capricorn? Forequarters of a goat, tail of a fish? Has cloven hooves, fins, and scales, and also apparently chews the cud…

  72. Which imaginary animals are kosher? | DC Forex Newscaster says:

    [...] 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!” Link [...]

  73. Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals « Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo says:

    [...] here for the full [...]

  74. Henrik från Kvällspasset says:

    We liked it so much – we did a story on it on Swedish Public Radio. But we got stuck on Ewok-soup. Great site! I guess you wouldn’t understand, but there is an audio link called “Lyssna här”.
    http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p3/nyhetssidor/amnessida.asp?ProgramID=2786&grupp=4583

  75. Which imaginary animals are kosher? « Enigma Street says:

    [...] First up, an attempt to establish which imaginary animals (or not so imaginary: I’m not prepared to declare the Mongolian Death Worm “imaginary” just yet) are kosher from Ecstatic Days. [...]

  76. The Art of Darkness » Blog Archive » Kosher Imaginary Animals says:

    [...] Link (via BoingBoing) [...]

  77. somesecretplace.co.uk » Which cryptozoological animals are kosher? says:

    [...] Link to list This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. « Stonehenge dig [...]

  78. Imaginary animals: kosher or treyf? « Moonraking says:

    [...] I would’ve figured the rooster-swallow-chicken-snake-goose-lobster-stag-fish hybrid was not kosher, but I would not necessarily have known [...]

  79. let’s go caps « words from hanvnah says:

    [...] 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.” See the full listing here [...]

  80. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Henrik–that’s awesome!

  81. Dan Davinski says:

    Um – has anyone questioned whether these animals would be eaten in Chinese restaurant…

  82. Cthulhu: Tastes Like Chicken? | Popehat says:

    [...] honor of Passover, Evil Monkey considers which imaginary animals are kosher. Via [...]

  83. D Barr says:

    Since angels have no corporeal form, can they even be considered food (other than for thought)? Since the shedim’s only corporeal part is chicken,and the demon part would be non-material, does that mean that shedim can be used for soup? Can it be kosher AND eaten in a Chinese restaurant? Sweet and sour shedim? Deep-fried shedim foot dim sum?

  84. Sitez » links for 2008-04-22 says:

    [...] Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals (tags: religion humor food) [...]

  85. Ian Osmond says:

    As Rich pointed out, a golem of a kosher animal is kosher. Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Oshaia would make a calf golem as an exercise in holiness, and then shochet and eat it. So, not only can a golem be eaten, it may be created specifically for the purpose of eating, as an exercise in holiness.

    Obviously, the behemoth and the leviathan are kosher, because the Righteous will be feasted on them at the End of Days, but the question is asked: why do we need BOTH the behemoth AND the leviathan? Surely only one of them would be enough?

    The leviathan, goes the old joke, is there for those folks who say, “Well, I don’t really KNOW Hashem’s shochet, so, y’know, I’ll just have a piece of the fish.”

  86. Kevin Andrew Murphy says:

    Well, the rooster-swallow-chicken-snake-goose-lobster-stag-fish hybrid would obviously show up on a Chinese menu. It’s the Happy Family Dragon-Phoenix combo all in one.

    Of course if we really got to eat imaginary animals, the Dragon-Phoenix would have to include actual dragon and actual phoenix.

  87. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    No one answered about mandrake root. :-(

  88. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    Okay, so now that I’m no longer distracted by grumpy people let me expand.

    I know that mandrake is a plant that actually does exist. However, considering the mythos about it I wonder if the mythological version of the mandrake is kosher.

    One way for the mandrake to come into existance is it’s supposedly from the ejaculate of a recently hanged man. (And some myths say the hanged man had to be a virgin as well. And seeing how it was mostly used in a time when it wasn’t unusual to hang 8 and 9 year old boys for being thieves….)

    The harvesting of the mandrake also called for the death of an innocent dog.

    So real mandrake aside, the mythical one – is it kosher?

    Here’s some more info on the mandrake, BTW –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandrake_%28plant%29

  89. Jewschool » Blog Archive » But what about Loch Ness? says:

    [...] full list can be found here. There’s also a great deal of comments/discussion over at Boing [...]

  90. American Madness » Blog Archive » Guide To Imaginary Kosher Animals says:

    [...] Enter into the maw, Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals. [...]

  91. Thaurfea says:

    the Vegetable Lamb is a cotton plant. it might be kosher, but i don’t think you’d want to eat it.

  92. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Oh, no. I’ve SEEN it. It is a lamb suspended from a kind of thistle plant with a umbilical cord!

  93. Stef says:

    I eat my hobbits wrapped in bacon and topped with melted cheese anyway.

    You must have gotten that recipe from The Two Fat Ladies.

  94. New Entries in the Coveted List of Links | Bloggle says:

    [...] first few pages, I expect good things. All the more so after following a link to this post — Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals — by way of Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s Making [...]

  95. Simcha Kuritzky says:

    I’ve read that the only kosher substances from treyf animals are bee honey and mother’s milk. I don’t know why humans would not be subject to the hoof and cud rule since we are land creatures. However, the Torah doesn’t specify humans as non-kosher, while it does list pigs, hyrax, camels, and rabbits as not being kosher, so there’s a double whammy on those.

    If a cow licked the Pope, would the cow become treyf? Now that we know it’s half man, that should make it non-kosher (unless it is just a mutant goat that half looks like a man).

  96. Michael Croland says:

    Sure, the list of imaginary kosher animals is a hoot, but it’s got nothing on the list of gentile animals. Cast your vote for the most “gentile” animal!

    http://heebnvegan.blogspot.com/2008/04/vote-for-most-gentile-animal.html
    (or http://tinyurl.com/3feb7u)

  97. Lean Left says:

    [...] VanderMeer knows … Mermaid – A: “No, for the obvious reasons.” EM: “What if you marry one? Is that kosher? Will [...]

  98. Shabbat Surfing–Can I Get a Pizza Yet? « The Blog at 16th and Q says:

    [...] we’re on the topic, ever wonder which imaginary animals are kosher? Looking forward to a little Aigi Kampoi (fish-tailed goat) the next time the frum Dungeons and [...]

  99. BulletproofHeeb says:

    I have a question and was wondering if anyone could help.

    On Star Trek they get most of their food from “replicators” which use energy stores (pretty much batteries) and convert the energy into matter as food.

    If they order a plate of ribs then the replicator makes it based on instructions of pork ribs but the meat is not actually from a pig. It’s from a battery. Would that be kosher since it did not come from an animal? Or would the fact that the programming instructions for “ribs” are based on pork make it traif?

  100. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    Well, I wouldn’t be 100% sure, but I do know from asking a Reform Jewish friend that it’s considered kosher – at least in Reform – to mix soy cheese with meat. Now what the answer would be if you asked someone who’s Conservitive or Orthadox would be I don’t know. Possibly just the symbolism might be considered treyf. So maybe replicated pork (or shellfish) would be considered okay, or maybe not.

  101. EvilCON » Which Fictional Animal is Kosher says:

    [...] I bet that’s a question that constantly pops into your mind, “which fictional animal is kosher?“ [...]

  102. Steve says:

    Jami JoAnne Russell, mixing soy cheese and real meat, or soy meat and real cheese, is fine not only according to Reform but also Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.

    The kashrut of Star-Trek-style replicator-produced food has been addressed elsewhere, for example at http://www.fanac.org/Other_Cons/LunaCon/l97-rpt.html and http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/test-tube-burgers-by-2009-182623.php . Personally, I feel that it should be considered kosher, and I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t be.

    Jeff VanderMeer, “kosher” doesn’t really mean clean. More like “fit” or “appropriate”.

    In fact, in Hebrew as pronounced today in Israel, food is not kosher (which is an Ashkenazi pronounciaion not used in Israel) but “kasher” (or not); the related word “kosher” actually means fitness, so a gym or “fitness center” is called a “machon kosher”.

    So as Megan said, yes, one can refer to people who are “kosher” (i.e., fit or appropriate) to marry, as well as “kosher” (i.e., religiously sanctioned) sex. Regarding a mermaid, Evil Monkey writes “I’m not talking about sex–I’m talking about marriage”, but it’s the same problem, in the sense that one cannot marry someone with whom sex is forbidden. Sex with any of the creatures listed above might entail bestiality.

    Maybe someone should write a Guide to Kosher Sex with Imaginary Creatures. But here we get into much murkier water, since kosher and non-kosher food both come in many varieties, whereas potential sexual partners seem to be strictly limited to the human species. Perhaps the rabbis addressed the question of sex with legendary human-like creatures such as Lilith, a golem, people created before Adam without human souls, etc. I don’t know.

  103. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    Thanks Steve. I know that the different branches often have different views of things. (And like I said, even just living in different areas, such as in regards to the turkey and it’s fitness to eat.)

    There’s lots of imaginary humaniods though. Saytars, nymphs, centars, fae, Vulcans, Klingons….

    My first crush being Mr. Spock and having had a thing for Data, I wonder if it would be “kosher” to have sex with a Vulcan or an andriod.

  104. Yama the Space Fish says:

    My friend and I are discussing this article.

    How about elementals and lamias?

  105. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Dear Yama the Space Fish:

    Good question. We’ll probably tackle that in the book version.

    JV

  106. Steve says:

    Jami JoAnne Russell: “There’s lots of imaginary humaniods though. Saytars, nymphs, centars, fae, Vulcans, Klingons…”

    Some more humanoid than others… Centaurs? I think you’d better call off the engagement. Re satyrs, there is actually an entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia (which refers to a number of other apparently legendary, monstrous half-human beings mentioned in the Bible and Talmud, as well). See http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=274&letter=S&search=Satyr

    The humanoid alien, such as a Vulcan, raises the question of what it means to be human. Where does one draw the line? Obviously, humans and Vulcans can successfully interbreed, as evidenced by Mr. Spock. But did he have children of his own, and if so, with whom?

    Likewise, the android challenges our definition of life, itself. Sex with an android could be considered a rather elaborate form of masturbation, which raises other issues.

    But if sex with either could be kosher, your best bet would probably be “Jewish” Vulcans and androids, such as Leonard Nimoy and Brent Spiner. (Note: Some of the actors who have portrayed Spock’s Vulcan father and human mother — at least Mark Lenard and Winona Ryder — are also Jewish…) :)

  107. Steve says:

    Jami JoAnne Russell, a bit more on “replicated” food, soy cheese and meat, etc:

    Among the many products with kosher certification from Orthodox rabbis are “faux” this and that — fake shrimp and crab made from kosher fish, soy milk that can be eaten with real meat and soy meat that can be eaten with real cheese, artificial bacon bits, etc. Essentially, what counts is what the food “really” is, not what it has been made to resemble or what flavor or texture it may be trying to immitate.

    In fact, according to Jewish tradition, for every forbidden food, God provided kosher equivalents that evoke a similar taste. See http://www.koshernexus.org/?p=893 for more on this, and in particular the interesting story of the shibuta, a semi-legendary fish said to taste like pork.

    Star-Trek-style replicator-produced food raises a more complex problem, because here one might say that the food does not just vaguely resemble a non-kosher product or evoke a similar taste, but that it is identical to non-kosher food right down to the subatomic, or at least (most?), the molecular, level. (The physics of the thing may be a theoretical impossibility, but let’s leave that aside for a moment.)

    My understanding is that, in general, kashrut doesn’t concern itself with that which is microscopic, let alone molecular or subatomic. And that could actually strengthen either side of the argument. Be that as it may, one could argue that replicated pork is still essentially pork and not akin to soy meat or the pork-tasting shibuta fish. On the other hand, it seems to me that, the fact that this stuff was never actually part of a living, breathing pig, is an essential difference.

    Which raises another issue that is far closer to reality: Lab-grown meat. (On this, see http://www.slate.com/id/2189676/ ).

    And, btw, if replicated pork isn’t pork, is a person “beamed up” (or down) on Star Trek’s transporter (which uses similar technology) still a person? Is he or she a new person? Such a possibility would wreak havoc with just about every aspect of halacha (Jewish law). Thus, in my non-expert opinion, I assume that this situation would necessitate a ruling according to which the “new” person is, in every sense, a continuation of the old. But what would happen if the person was not just transported but actually replicated?….

  108. Jami JoAnne Russell says:

    You know, Steve, you can call me “Jami” instead of my full name. I tend to use it cause people tend to assume that “Jami” is short for James and that I’m really a man, when in reality I am very much a female born and bred.

    See, I vote that replicated pork is non-kosher cause even though it didn’t come from a living pig, it’s suppose to be exactly like pig meat. (I wonder if the fact I’m allergic to pork would carry over into replicated pork. Of course, in the ST-verse they probably have cures for food allergies, but still it’s something to think about. Could I eat replicated bacon, or would it make me have violent stomach cramps like the real thing does? Would replicated cinnimon for that matter make it hard for me to breath like real cinnimon does? Ah, but that’s a whole other subject.)

    See, if not for this thread I never would’ve become addicted to this site and read Veniis Underground.

  109. Steve says:

    Jami: “I vote that replicated pork is non-kosher cause even though it didn’t come from a living pig, it’s suppose to be exactly like pig meat”

    Exactly like? Yes, right down to the molecular or even subatomic level. But the relevant laws governing the kashrut of meat ask if the animal from which it came had split hooves and chewed its cud. Likewise, if the animal was killed or died in any way other than the kosher method of slaughter, its meat isn’t kosher. In this case, one might say that there is no animal, no hooves, no cud, no slaughter — thus, all these rules might be irrelevant for the replicated meat.

    Or maybe not. Replicated meat could presumably be traced back to the scan of some original, natural meat. But is that enough of a connection for us to demand that the replicated stuff be “from” a kosher animal? If not, I suppose this replicated stuff also would not be considered “meat” at all and thus could be eaten with milk.

    Or maybe not. There is another principle of Jewish law we haven’t mentioned yet — marit ayin. Basically, it means that one should avoid doing things that *appear* to be forbidden, because otherwise one may cause people to think that a forbidden act is permitted. In this context, there could be a big problem with eating otherwise permitted replicated pork, shellfish, cheeseburgers, etc. — since it looks exactly like eating the “real thing”, people might see your example and wrongly conclude that all pork, shellfish, etc. — not just the replicated kind — is kosher.

    Or maybe not. In a time and place in which all food is replicated (such as on a spaceship), it can be assumed that the people who see you eat will realize that the food is artificial. (Still, landing on a planet and coming across the “real thing”, they might not understand that, as non-replicated food, it is essentially different, and stricter rules of kashrut apply.

    Or maybe not. Today, “marit ayin” does not prevent us from eating kosher fake shrimp, crab, bacon, using non-dairy cream at a meat meal, etc. But some people are strict to make sure it is clear to all diners that the faux treif (non-kosher food) is just that, and not the real thing.

    Jami: “I wonder if the fact I’m allergic to pork would carry over into replicated pork”

    I assume it would, considering that the two kinds of pork are chemically and perhaps even subatomically identical.

    Jami: “in the ST-verse they probably have cures for food allergies”

    I think not. See references to food and other allergies in the ST-verse at:

    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Allergy
    http://www.midwinter.com/~koreth/particles/
    http://www.startrekfreedom.com/fleet/spectre/bios.php?bios=870
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantasms_(TNG_episode)

  110. Is It Just Me or is the Internet Busier Lately? « Tiny Cat Pants says:

    [...] probably couldn’t eat a minotaur because it is half-human, but you could eat a goat fish.  Oh, I found it!  But I see there’s no ruling on Spam (which of course is obviously not treyf if it is [...]

  111. The Light Of Truth - Page 2 | hilpers says:

    [...] kosher pastafarianism? Can it be done? Turns out that neither dragons nor jackalopes are kosher… http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2008/0…inary-animals/ — Skipweasel Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet [...]

  112. Wondering if that imaginary animal you’re about to eat is kosher? « jew on this says:

    [...] if that imaginary animal you’re about to eat is kosher? 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 [...]

  113. John says:

    The problem I see with Dragons is how to classify them.

    Are they Sea, Land or Air creatures?

    They do fly – or at least most of the dragons I’ve read about fly. And for creatures that fly there is only a list of those that are prohibited. I don’t believe dragons are on the list.

  114. Unicorn is not Kosher says:

    [...] **Regarding what mythical creatures are Kosher. Unicorn is in the comments. [...]

  115. Max says:

    Well, actually, not so – “kosher” just means “fit,” as in “fit for use, appropriate,” so yeah, there is such a thing as kosher sex.

  116. Paul Lain at Cure Premature Ejaculation says:

    How I like that picture, it reminds me of the medevil pics my friend is using in his wargames book.

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  119. fixing premature ejaculation says:

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  120. BEST LED TV says:

    That serious , not so – “kosher” just means “fit,” as in “fit for use, appropriate,” so yeah, there is such a thing as kosher sex. REALLY?

  121. Shanice Jarosz says:

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  122. NRWStripper says:

    Is this really a discussion abot kosher or what?

  123. NRWStripper says:

    To be or not to be, that isn´t the question here..

  124. Topbroker says:

    All or most comments has nothing to do with kosher or not kosher.

  125. 007Events says:

    Of course all dragons can fly, or haven´t you ever seen one?

    http://www.meta1.de

  126. Kosher in Space | Neville Park says:

    [...] the other day, this comment about triffids in a thread at james_nicoll’s reminded me of the kosher imaginary animals post at Jeff Vandermeer’s and got me thinking about the kosher status of alien [...]

  127. Are Dragons Kosher? » Mixed Multitudes – My Jewish Learning: Exploring Judaism & Jewish Life says:

    [...] armed with a smattering of Jewish knowledge and Jewish texts. In 2007, on a whim, they knocked out a blog post arguing which imaginary animals are kosher. Some of the animals came from different cultural mythologies — there’s Bigfoot, [...]

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  129. amira says:

    Have you ever wondered if it’s kosher to eat a dragon? What about a leviathan?

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