Gloria London

The prohibition against mixing milk and meat is one of the fundamental rules of kashrut, or Jewish kosher law. But how did this dietary division develop? Author Gloria London believes that traditional Cypriot potters may provide some insight into this age-old Jewish custom, the origins of which have all but disappeared.

While studying the habits and traditions of village potters, London learned that pots used for making goat’s-milk yogurt and other dairy products are never used to cook meat. The explanation for the rule was simple: The porous clay walls of a dairy pot retain the sour, milky residues necessary to create yogurt and other fermented milk products. While these rancid-smelling pots produce excellent fresh yogurt, any piece of meat that might be cooked in them would immediately sour, becoming both foul-tasting and foul-smelling. Might this general rule of good housekeeping have been the origin of the Biblical injunction?