Getting cultural in LA
My LA story, Posts

Who said we couldn’t get cultural in LA?

One of the reasons I didn’t want to live in America was the lack of cultural opportunities we’d be presented with.  It was such a bonus in Shanghai to learn about and empathise with the Chinese culture.

But who said we couldn’t get cultural in LA?

Alas I was wrong… most of my friends here in 90210 are Jewish so we’re lucky enough to learn so much about their (religious) culture and the holidays and ceremonies involved.

My first cultural moment was when I had my tennis friends for lunch in what was a momentous cultural exchange.  I was exposing them to my culture of Pimms & Lemonade after tennis and they were introducing me to food preparation the Jewish way.

Cheers! Pimms & Lemonade anyone?

Cheers! Pimms & Lemonade anyone?


My first question to them: “Do I need to cook with Kosher Salt?” (something I’ve seen a bit of in the supermarket).

Apparently not.  No, apart from not serving them the basics like pork (the key ingredient in many of my signature dishes–bugger it) and bacon I don’t need to worry about Kosher salt.  Apparently it was funny because using Kosher salt doesn’t magically make the dish kosher (if only).  Glad I could provide some entertainment for you, it’s what I do best.

A highlight of the Jewish calendar would have to be the Bar & Bat Mitzvahs.  (It’s Bar Mitvah for the boys and Bat Mitvah for the girls when they turn 13).

I’ve been very honoured to be invited to a few now and so humbled to witness such a momentous event.  Such a lot of work and preparation goes in I wanted to witness the “call to the Torah” myself.

With the number of Jewish people running Hollywood I’m surprised there aren’t more movies–or at least TV episodes–about these amazing events.

And they are a party planner’s dream come true: photo shoots, red carpets, candy stations to rival the Candy Bar at the movies, dancers, DJs, MCs, special guests, photo booths, activities galore–and quite a bit of grog.

Bar Mitzvahs

Amazing table setting at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah at the Beverly Wilshire | It Started in LA |


And the 90210 Bar/Batmitzvahs are the best!

In case you’re wondering what to give at these momentous events–a cheque!  (Cause they still write cheques here!)  To show your reverence and understanding of their culture multiples of $18 are the way to go.  This is symbolic for the gift of life originating from Hebrew words and letters that make up the word life.  (They usually also give multiples of $18 for birth or a wedding too.)



One of my girlfriend’s favourite Jewish holidays is Sukkot.  It’s essentially a holiday to celebrate the harvest where you eat outside to mimic the forty-year period when the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters.

There’s plenty of food and a traditional offering is made gathering family and friends together.

It’s now a regular event on our social calendar we look forward to each year.  It may or may not have anything to do with great friends, lots of good wine and fun family times.


Sukkot at my friends is a great night–and a reminder that our food comes from a harvest something that’s pretty easy to forget.

Learn all about it here.

I have a lot of respect for my Jewish friends who keep their traditions alive.  I struggled to do it as a semi-lapsed catholic so hats off.

xx It Started in LA xx


PS: I can hear the dissatisfaction at the end of the post with you yelling at the screen asking, “Where’s the recipe for the Pimms & Lemonade it looks so bloody good.”

By popular demand here it is …

Pimm’s Fruit Punch


Pimms & Lemonade

A cultural exchange: Pimms & Lemonade goes hand-in-hand with tennis

Grab a jug and pour in a good dose of Pimms to your mixing taste.

Add half lemonade (Sprite) and half Ginger Ale.

Cut up your favourite fruit like oranges, strawberries and cucumber and mint and stir.

Enjoy & please drink responsibly.


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