Waiting Between Meals

What it means to separate meat from milk

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These are three generally accepted wait-time traditions. However, even today, I've en­countered people who've developed their own traditions within their communities. Some wait four hours after eating chicken, five hours after meat. Some start counting the wait time after saying blessings, some start counting as soon as they've swallowed the last bite of meat.

Waiting After Dairy

With dairy foods, the wait time between dairy and meat is minimal. This is based on [the talmudic tractate] Chullin 105a, where it says, "How long must one wait between cheese and flesh? And he replied, Nothing at all." Still, you should eat something like bread to effectively wipe your mouth of any milky taste, and you should rinse your mouth and wash your hands.

Hard cheese, described as cheese that has aged over six months, such as Swiss cheese, has a stronger flavor and is thought to leave a fatty residue, so it requires a six-hour wait.

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Lise Stern

Lise Stern is a food writer living in the Boston area.