I had an positive experience during our little research project. After vigorous deliberation we decided that I would be ‘Dr. Researcher’ and Lindsey would be Señora Participant. I came up with some crummy questions and we headed out, and while out I tweaked the questions to make them better along the way. We really weren’t sure which topic to cover at first because we thought that both topics cover improvements on campus, and both could be investigated in the cafeteria. Ultimately, we decided to go with the cafeteria topic and started taking pictures.
The way I understood it was that the participant took pictures to answer the questions, and those answers would be elaborated on during a ‘photo elicitation’ session after returning to base. So we set out and I presented my questions, and this is where the experience took an unexpected turn (for me at least). I’ve been attending QC for a couple of years but I know very little about its campus
because I usually just come in to class and leave home, I don’t have many friends here so I don’t hang around often. So our first stop was this Dining Hall next to Rathaus Hall that I didn’t even know was there…I know…Sad
The first picture was an attempt at the first answer about feeling restricted to certain areas of campus, but this turned into me learning about dietary laws that Jewish people have to follow. The picture says that if you’re picking up food for anyone or plan to eat it out of the designated dining area; you’re responsible for getting Kosher tape put on it. And that you are responsible for the Kashrut.
I started talking with Lindsey about how this could affect her if she had a non-Jewish friend eat with her. She explained that it’s not that difficult but that there are times where she might have a friend with her who may eat a hamburger, and by deitary law, she can’t let the meat touch the dairy. So basically if I buy a hamburger and eat it while she eats Mac ‘n’ Cheese and I flick a piece of my burger on her plate; it’s a violation of the dietary law. I felt silly for not knowing about this, and she said it’s not exactly common knowledge for everyone. I’m an Agnostic raised by non-religious parents, so I find religious rules, customs, and rites of passage very interesting.
So, I learned the following: A Jewish person can’t eat dairy AND meat together. They CAN however eat meat AFTER they eat dairy…HOWEVER they can’t eat meat and then eat dairy. This is all fascinating to me because I can’t imagine being able to keep track of this, it just seems so strict. She told me that it just becomes second nature to you and that it’s not too hard at all.
Afterward I asked her what she’d improve if she could improve anything, and she said she’d probably improve the prices after we reviewed her picture of the [breakfast] menu.
It seemed like a buffet style setup so it would seem that you pay a bit much considering the portions and this led me to my next question which was if she thought it’d be a good idea to bring in some commercial restaurants into the area, and she said that she wasn’t too sure about it and I think that it might even invoke a response that, in the spirit of capitalism, could lower prices for the ‘Dairy Stop’. She took a picture of her friend in front of an advertisement for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, which seems directly related to the same idea.
She then showed me another section with a much larger room and more tables. She told me that it was too bad that it wasn’t lunch time because the picture would probably end up showing how crowded the eating area can get. She explained to me that while she couldn’t eat meat and dairy together (or even let meat and dairy touch) it isn’t any different for the restaurants preparing the food. She pointed out that if you wanted your dairy you could get it in the first area, but you’d have to leave for other foods like your Chinese food or Pizza, and that made sense to me. I figure that this might be an inconvenience to someone if they’re eating lunch with a diverse group with a diverse group of cravings, add that to a very crowded lunchtime eating area; and you’ve got yourself a challenging lunchtime. While she suggested that the cafeteria could benefit from more tables and chairs; there’s no telling if that would make lunchtime any less crowded but it’s a start.
So my mini-fieldwork experience became like a campus tour of a building I never went inside, and an introduction to Jewish dietary laws. Even though I was seriously embarrassed by all that I didn’t know, I’m glad I got to learn about them thanks to my Señora participant Lindsey who was very helpful throughout. We didn’t get to change roles but I think everything turned out well. The experience even led me to do a little research of my own (especially after looking at the first photo) and I learned that a Mashgiach is the person who supervises and looks to maintain the Kashrut which I learned is the name for the set of Jewish dietary laws.