Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Annual Shavuot Dilemma

Way back when, when I was learning how to be a good Torah Jew, you'd think that for properly celebrating Shavuot eating cheesecake was more important than learning Torah all night.  The Jewish world I knew was Ashkenaz, European, not Sephardic (Iberian) or North African.

In those days, if someone had a different custom at home, from the Yiddishe cheesecake he/she was clever enough to keep it a secret.

We've been living in Shiloh for almost three decades.  Shiloh isn't the New York I knew in the 1960's.  We're multicultural, ethnically diverse.  Yes, really.  We have Jews here from all over the world, all different backgrounds, including entire families who are Jews "by choice."

It may sound sacrilegious, but many of them don't eat cheesecake on Shavuot.  They don't eat dairy at all.  Many eat meat and even grill the Shavuot lunch.

What do you eat on Shavuot?  I'm planning fish meal.  We have some ground fish in the freezer from Pesach, so maybe I should make Geffilte Fish.


rickismom said...

Not having a clear tradition from MY forefathers, I have always had a dilema of WHEN to eat milchick on shavuot. My husband wants a main flaisik meal, sio often I have settled for just a milchik kiddush. But my only guests this year are in the evening, so I don't have enough people eating kiddush to be able to prepare more than one thing (especially since I would be tempted to eat the leftovers...) So this year I am serving in the evening a milchig soup, followed (on milchig dishes) with pareve fish (sole in wine sauce), and THEN meat.

Batya said...

rm, it's too late at night to eat so much food, imho.

I think it'll be healthier to eat more fish. Considering the price, it's yontifdik for sure.

Leora said...

I was hoping to serve a meat meal the first night (my father and I both have difficulty with dairy), but I realize my kids will be served pizza at their all-night learning. So dairy and pareve it is. Mushroom soup and quiche, anyone? I'll make fish, too. We'll do a mix of both meat and dairy meals. My friend offered to cook two different lasagnas, one with vegetables and one with dairy. Nice to have friends that like to cook.

Batya said...

Leora, parve is a problem for many on Shavuot, especially in the states where there's more dairy in simple cakes and even bread. I think that fish can be just as festively "yomtov" as meat, especially so late at night. Holidays can't be "taken early." Then one won't have a probem when "all" the nosh is dairy.

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

Gulab jamun! A classic Indian dessert, they are an easy, delightful and refreshing alternative to cheesecake. I make them every year, ahead of time so they'll have a day to soak in their luscious cardamom-sugar syrup...

We've had fish meals in past... including a fish curry, which went along with the gulab jamun. But like at Leora's house, the kids' favourite is probably lasagna. Sounds like a weekday meal, but there's so much "patchke" to it that I usually deem it suitable for Yom Tov.

Lasagna with a nice soup, a nice bread... what more could anyone want?

We'll probably have one meat meal, the second night, just for a change from all the dairy.

Batya said...

Jennifer, I forgot that you have two days, four meals to deal with. It's pretty easy to OD on ice cream and cheese cake.

I've been wondering if I need to serve more than melon and watermelon at the annual Shavuot afternoon shiur we've been hosting a long, long time.

Leah @ said...

Our (Chabad) minhag is a milchig kiddush on the 1st afternoon, igsfollowed an hour later by a fleishige meal. However, I tend to do both afternoon meals milchige, here in Crimea. Nobody (or almost nobody) would eat again an hour later, so I usually have something light available for the few of us who do that. I also have left-over gefilte fish, Batya, and that will be our first course in the evenings. I even have homemade chrein from Pesach! :-)

When is the next JPix?

Batya said...

JPIX is in a few weeks, at Leora's who hosted KCC.

I eat the chrain all year and just got a new root to make more for Shavuot.

Lady-Light said...

I'm glad you asked! D.H. is making (has already made) eggplant parmigiana, and we will make green noodles-linguini, or the like-as a side dish, most likely with garlic/butter sauce.

Our appetizer will be herring in cream sauce (from a jar), and we (he, most likely)might make a milchig soup, such as cream of mushroom soup perhaps, from our terrific kosher soup cookbook. For dessert, D. H. already bought a ready-made cheesecake.

For us, it's four meals, but we were invited out for two of the four, so we only have to worry about two; what we have left is 2nd day lunch, and we'll probably have blintzes.

As you can probably tell, except for one of our invites where they'll probably have fleishigs, we like to have all four milchig (dairy) meals (I don't go for that 'ein simcha bli basar ve-dagim' thing on Shavuot.)

Batya said...

Sounds nice. I've settled on vegetable soup and geffilte fish with veggie side dishes.

Hadassa said...

I grew up on much Italian food so for me Shavuot in my own home was an excellent time to make my favorites, until my husband decided that dairy food made him too tired. Now we have a mainly fish dinner. Salmon, a rather yontifdik item, is the main course. Various dairy items with relatively small amounts of cheese are side courses. Pareve salads abound. (DH brings some of them home from Alei Katif along with many herbs.) Lasagna is the main course for the morning meal. I make my own whole-wheat lasagna pasta. Fish dishes and salads are the side courses. I serve cheesecake and other cakes at both meals and for nosh. A friend of mine makes both a dairy cheesecake and a pareve tofu cake that she says is very creamy. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a good option for a meat meal too.
Jennifer, I'm going to Google gulab jamun - sounds intriguing.

Batya said...

Hadassa, sounds great. Considering the price of good fish, it should certainly be considered festive enough for a holiday. And the fresh horseraddish root I bought yesterday wasn't cheap either.