Any person who eats kosher will be aware of the potential difficulties involved in maintaining the practice when traveling, especially if it involves international trips to remote and exotic locations, like the Brazilian Amazon. With the right knowledge and some careful preparation, eating kosher on an Amazon river cruise is a definite possibility.
There’s certainly no shortage of advice out there from places such as Yeah That’s Kosher and The Amateur Traveller. This ranges from packing your suitcase with plenty of non-perishable kosher foods, to ordering special meals at restaurants, on cruises or airlines, and even using kitchen facilities to cook meals yourself using your own purchased ingredients – as the Travelling Rabbi did on his Amazon rainforest trip. Here, we’ve gathered a list of our favorite resources and the most useful information to keep you kosher on your Amazon vacation.
Our number one recommendation for those looking to eat Kosher on Manaus tours or on Brazil Amazon river cruises is Chabad-Lubavitch in Manaus. Headed up by Rabbi Arieh Raichman, a Texan native who has been living in the area for 7 years, Chabad of Manaus provides the only kosher food delivery service in the Amazon region. It specialises in preparing quality kosher meals for local Jewish families and tourists alike, and delivers to any hotel in the city.
This is a fantastic service for those looking to eat kosher on their Amazon trip, and goes a long way towards making up for the lack of kosher restaurants in the city. Manaus has a very small Jewish population of around 1,000 (of which an even smaller number are practicing) and the lack of Jewish-focused provisioning certainly poses its challenges. But the Raichmans are committed to serving Jewish visitors to the area. The rabbi and his family import produce from Sao Paulo, as well as transporting food up the Amazon river from Belem – which has a larger Jewish community and where meat can be slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law. They are also campaigning to install a mikvah in Manaus, which will eliminate the need to take periodic boat trips out on the Amazon to immerse new food vessels in the river.
Rabbi Arieh Raichman prides himself on offering a variety of fine kosher foods, including Glatt kosher meat and chicken, fresh fish, Chalav Yisrael dairy products, Pat Israel bread, and other baked products which his family makes from scratch. For a taste of the sorts of meals you can expect, check out their menu and order form here. Examples of meals you can have prepared and delivered include varieties of fried chicken or fish, grilled vegetables, potatoes, squash, rice, pasta, lasagne, beans, salads and dips. In other words, plenty to keep you fueled and well-nourished throughout your Brazil Amazon adventure.
If you enquire, it may well be possible to order your meals in advance and have them delivered to your Amazon cruise boat. All you’d then need to do is arrange for them to be heated up, which would go a long way towards alleviating the stress and hassle of mealtimes.
The Chabad also operates a Kosher convenience store in Manaus with products such as kosher meat, cheese, wine and milk. This serves as a great place to stock up on any essentials you may want for snacks or to prepare meals yourself whilst in Brazil.
Although Brazil has the second-largest Jewish population in South America, this is largely confined to the large cities, and Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in particular. As such, it can be a challenge at times to track down enough suitable food to eat. For example, most kosher products in the country generally do not carry a kosher symbol. However, there are useful resources out there to help you identify suitable foods, such as this Kosher Food Resource, which is constantly updated to reflect what is kosher in Brazil.
In addition to making use of services such as Chabad of Manaus you may want to consider packing non-perishable kosher food items so you’re not reliant on finding or ordering food for every meal. Examples of versatile kosher foods that travel well can be found with a simple Google search, and include items such as cans of tuna, peanut butter, tortilla wraps, crackers and cans of soups. There are also several reputable brands that specialize in producing kosher ready-meals that travel well and can easily be heated up in a microwave.
Another point to consider, and one that seems to be a popular question amongst many Jewish travelers to the Amazon, concerns the suitability of various freshwater fish. Fish sourced from the Amazon are used to create many delicious Amazonian specialties that are definitely worth sampling, and thankfully Chabad Manaus have created a very useful list of kosher fish to help.
In addition to identifying the species, you may also want to consider how the fish you’re ordering is being prepared. For example, cutting it up using a knife that has also been used for seafood such as shrimp or octopus, may well be a concern for some observing kashrut. Finally, if you have the chance to go fishing during your Amazon cruise, this can be a great way to help supplement your diet. For help booking an amazon tour in Brazil, please contact us.
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