Mmmm! Kosher cart on campus now feeds after-school activities

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Mmmm! Kosher cart on campus now feeds after-school activities

Deanna Grunfeld

Deanna Grunfeld

Deanna Grunfeld

YUM!: Sophomore Eitan Miller buys his afterschool-snack from the taco cart.

Kalil Eden, Staff Writer

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The one thing that could improve Shalhevet is here:  Tacos.

Tacos A La Carte, the self-proclaimed only Glatt kosher taco cart in the world, has been stationed in the parking lot from 4 PM until oblivion — or until food or customers run out, whichever comes first — since the beginning of the semester. A regular schedule hasn’t been set in stone yet, but the cart makes an entrance at least twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The cart is metal all around, topped with a grill and kitchen, while a colorful umbrella declares its presence. It dispenses a vaporous taste of carne asada into its immediate atmosphere, imprinting an appetite for warm Hispanic food deep in the mindset of students. Tacos cost $2.50, burritos $8, hot dogs $3.50, hamburgers $4, and beverages $1.

“Smelling the aroma of the grilled meat coming through my Pre-calculus room’s window, I know that today is a taco cart day,” wrote Boiling Point restaurant critic Nathaniel Kukurudz, junior, in an e-mail. “Not only does this mean I get to have a fantastic taco or burrito, but it also means I won’t have to walk to Starbucks to get an unsatisfying drink when I will be at school for a long time.”

According to Harry and Beth Green, who run the cart, all food is prepared in small batches, without any oil or preservatives, using only quality carne asada for beef.

The Greens arrive at 4 for departing middle schoolers, but they station the cart just outside the high school, which doesn’t dismiss until 5 p.m. Judging by the number of tacos being smuggled into last-period classes, it’s a hit.

At the bell, kids blitzkrieg the cart, which instantly shrinks in comparison to the crowd before it. When offered, they nosh on free chips, and shout orders barely comprehensible to the Greens. Harry and Beth follow along as fast they can, quickly rolling burritos and tending the grill.

A range of extra-curriculars start after 5, including drama, choir, SAT prep and debate in addition to sports. But the school cafeteria closes after lunch, and  until now the only way to get food was to go to 7-11, Starbucks or the candy machines in the lunchroom.

Edith Ellenhorn, mother of freshman Jacob Ellenhorn, decided that Shalhevet needed a better after school food source, and Rabbi Weinbach agreed. Lili Einalhori, registrar, chose Tacos Ala Carte for the job.

Rabbi Weinbach hopes this option will make students’ lives a little easier before extracurriculars which can run late into the night, and also maybe improve the nutrition factor when students might long for the loving company of something greasy. Others had noted the lack of any kosher food within a walkable distance from Shalhevet.

“Students who had after-school activities, including my son, needed dinner,” explained Rabbi Weinbach, head of school, referring to junior Shimmy Weinbach, who has stayed after school for sports and drama. “Before the cart, many of them had to get by on less-nutritious snacks. [The cart is here] To convenience people staying after school with a kosher eating option. I don’t track who does or does not keep kashrut.”

When not at the school, the cart occupies the parking lot of Chase bank on Pico and Roxbury. For the most part, Tacos Ala Carte has received a warm welcome.

“It is great for getting food before any sports practice or extracurricular activity after school,” commented Adam Ashkenazi, sophomore. “Even though it is a little expensive, it gives you the opportunity to eat kosher right after school without going outside of school.”  Though the taco cart is convenient, some students feel the prices are too high, especially after paying six dollars for lunch.

“I personally don’t get because of that,” sophomore Eitan Spitzer remarked, “and also I don’t want to get cramps after eating too much before basketball practice.”

The only collective complaint besides the price is the lack of anything for vegetarians. Tacos Ala Carte offers food free of meat like rice and bean tacos and burritos, but because it is prepared on the same grill as meat and still in contact with the meat, most vegetarians won’t eat it.

“The meat juice is on the grill,” said freshman and vegetarian Rose Bern. “If you’re consuming meat juice, but not meat, that breaks the so-called ‘tacit code’ a vegetarian will follow.”

This has stirred complaints from non-vegetarians as well.

“The vegetarians should also have an option to eat,” remarked freshman Edan Anava. “It’s not fair that they give food mostly to people that eat meat.”

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