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A Lack of Good Taste?

April 26, 1987

I found Heidi Evans' April 16 piece "Seder Observance Is a Sellout . . . at Chasen's" extremely offensive. The article was patronizing, replete with stereotypes and misinformation, and reduced a major Jewish holiday to a tacky show-biz puff piece.

Particularly offensive are Evans' comments about Jewish food, which "in spite of Chasen's talented kitchen is, well, traditional, bland and heavy. And such large portions, too, as the old joke goes." This was followed by Chasen's manager's "respectful" comment: "Sometimes, it's not the tastiest food, but it's traditional."

Jewish cuisine is multifaceted and distinguished, and, when prepared properly, second to none in terms of tastiness--a fact long recognized by knowledgeable gastronomes and cookbook authors. Nothing in Jewish tradition dictates heavy, bland food, nothing glorifies gluttony. On the contrary, rabbinic teachings stress healthfulness of foodstuffs and moderation of consumption.

The issue is not food, it is the lack of sensitivity with which Jewish topics are treated in your paper. For some reason it's considered acceptable to ridicule and distort Jewish tradition while maintaining respect for other minority cultures. Would Martin Luther King's birthday be reduced to a yuk-fest on soul food? Cinco de Mayo designated as Bean Burrito Day?

I am a sophisticated reader who writes for a living (two nonfiction books, the novels "When the Bough Breaks," "Blood Test," "Over the Edge"). I know good journalism when I see it and I can also recognize a shoddy cheap shot.

JONATHAN KELLERMAN

Los Angeles

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