Piranha caught in the Amazon Rainforest

We caught this piranha while fishing in the Amazon Rainforest. Some species of piranha are kosher and others are not. We did not eat this one because this species of piranha contains dangerous parasites.

A few years ago I went to the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador.  I spent a week in the rainforest, exploring.  It was a fantastic experience!  I learned a lot and had a great time.

One of the challenges of going to the Amazon Rainforest was how to keep kosher.  I went with a group (for obvious safety reasons) and we slept in thatched-roof huts with no walls.  There was no electricity in the camp, no cell phone reception, and barely any running water.  Guests weren’t allowed into the kitchen, which was definitely not kosher.

Before my trip, I contacted the group I planned to go with and asked them if they would accommodate my kosher needs. They did not have the ability to do so, but I was able to negotiate with them to allow me to cook in their kitchen.

I brought my own pot and some of my own food.  I brought some oatmeal, tuna in packets, and lots of little packets of condiments, like ketchup, mayonnaise, and honey.  Once in the kitchen, I was able to boil a few of the kitchen’s all-metal utensils to make them kosher.  Because they belonged to non-Jews I did not have to toivel (ritually immerse) them.  I was able to use anything I wanted from the kitchen. Most of the food there was in the form of eggs, raw fruits, and vegetables, so as long as I checked it for bugs, I was able to use it.

In the end, I was able to cook up plenty of delicious food!  The other guests were even jealous because sometimes my food looked better than the tour’s food.

If you are going on a “camping” style tour or group, you can ask them to accommodate by allowing you to cook your own food.  Usually they are very happy to help you!

One other kosher issue came up while I was in Ecuador’s rainforest: the issue of fish.  I thought we could go fishing and I could supplement my diet with fresh fish.  I could guarantee it was kosher if it had both fins and scales.  We did go fishing, but unfortunately we didn’t catch any fish that were safe to eat!  We caught only piranhas that we couldn’t eat due to the dangerous parasites they contain.  Read more about kosher fish here: http://travelingrabbi.com/kosher-food/kosher-fish/

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