The International District's Bush Garden, approaching its sixtieth birthday, has a storied past that includes celebrity visits and sukiyaki dinners. Unfortunately, the restaurant is in decline, bolstered by karaoke nights and liquor sales more than its cuisine--which is nothing to write home about. Still, settle into a tatami room with a group of friends, and you can almost feel what the good old days must have been like.
The menu boasts "traditional and nouveau Japanese cuisine," but after all these years, there's nothing really nouveau unless you've come out of a cave and count a couple of sushi rolls or the Hershey's chocolate sundae. What you can find are comforting favorites like chicken karaage, gyoza, donburi rice bowls, and a couple of teriyaki-flavored preparations. One is ebi bacon maki: skewered prawns wrapped in bacon and grilled with teriyaki sauce.
So what does Bush Garden's ebi bacon maki teach us about sex?
It's all about the dilemma of keeping kosher.
As it's just prior to Passover, I can tell you that there's actually a book called Kosher Sex, authored by Shmuley Boteach. Boteach is a rabbi who more recently wrote Kosher Sutra and Kosher Adultery, which is subtitled "Seduce and Sin with Your Spouse." The guy's no prude. Kosher Adultery, for example, encourages couples to integrate principles of adultery into their bedrooms to spice up their sex lives. For example, wives can become their husbands' private webcam girls, while husbands can lay lustful eyes on their wives-turned-mistresses. I don't agree with all of the philosophy, though I do like the notion of helping committed couples reignite the flame of forgotten passion.
Sadly, though, Boteach's sex-positive approach pertains only to married, heterosexual couples.
There's even a kosher sex toys website with a stated mission to "provide married adults with products that can help enhance their intimate moments without involving crude or indecent pictures or text." There are no models or even mannequins wearing lingerie (actually, the lingerie link only shows pictures of stiletto boots and spike heel sandals), as the owners "believe that only two people belong in the bedroom-and bringing pictures of others in can only harm a marriage." The site defines kosher sex as "the promotion of meaningful sexual acts that mold two people into one spiritual flesh."
Sex and spirituality can certainly be connected, but I believe we all choose how "orthodox" we want to be. When I worked for Planned Parenthood, I did an informal survey and found that the vast majority of the workers were Catholic. (Jews were second.) These women--I was about the only man--embraced their Catholicism, but rejected what they considered regressive policies related to gender and sexual rights.
As for keeping kosher, I think about a bottle of Baconlube that the guys from J&D's (local makers of Bacon Salt and Baconnaise) sent me. The bad news: Despite sharing in our society's bacon-loving frenzy, I find the smell and texture too off-putting for the bedroom. The good news: For those interested, there is no actual pork in any of the J&D's products. With Baconlube, you can have a certifiably kosher sexual experience.