Sunday, June 01, 2014

Shavuot Menu, Do You Blintze or Barbecue?

For most Ashkenaz, ethnic European Jews, especially outside of Israel this question probably sounds sacrilegious. When I was learning Torah Judaism, becoming religious I was told that eating cheesecake was as intrinsic to celebrating Shavuot as matzah was on Passover.

The culinary highlight of my in-laws staying with us for Shavuot was the homemade blintzes my mother-in-law made. I had no idea that there was a way to make them outside of purchasing the frozen variety from the supermarket. That was the only type ever found in my parents' home.

Over the years I learned to make various dairy kugels and an easy version of Eggplant Parmesan, which would have most cooks outraged by its simplicity and lack of authenticity. But that was the only way I would do it. In principle I do not cook recipes that involve three or even two steps besides noodle kugels. And I was overjoyed to discover from a friend that you actually don't need to precook lasagna pasta; just layer the dry noodles as if they had been cooked and add extra water. Here in Israel, we have a great variety of kosher cheeses, so if you have the right breads and crackers you barely have to cook.

Then my daughter married a Tunisian Jew, and our traditional Shavuot menu was suddenly under attack. His family, like many North African Jews, do not each much dairy and certainly do not consider cheese to be suitable for Jewish Holidays. They barbecue on Jewish Holidays for the "morning" meal. He considered our "just like Shabbat" menu to be an affront on Jewish food. They barbecue on Rosh Hashannah, Succot, Simchat Torah, Passover and yes, even eat grilled meat on Shavuot! Cheesecake, blintzes, lasagna, pizza and all those cheesy dishes aren't part of their traditional Shavuot menu.

Our compromise for their coming to us for Shavuot was to have one dairy meal and one meat meal. Recent years they've established the custom to be with his family, so the younger generation can learn with their cousins.

Salmon and veggies
Back at the ranch, as the saying goes, we've been eating less and less cheese in our home. It's expensive and not very suitable for me and my husband's diet regime. I've also eliminated blintzes, since I never learned how to make the homemade ones and they aren't on my approved food list. To celebrate Shavuot, I get nice fish to cook and we do splurge on some good cheeses. Our favorite fish is salmon, which even on sale is more expensive than the beef I buy. And of course I make lots of vegetables and salads.

So, what do you serve on Shavuot?


goyisherebbe said...

I have to lodge a small protest, not against you personally, Batya, but against the general reduction of the public media discussion of holidays to food. I would be happy with anything if it is done well. I don't do barbecue on Yom Tov because I am not adept with it and don't want to accidentally put out fire on Yom Tov. The main thing on Shavuot is learning Torah. In previous years we have had a meat meal at night (I'm the only one who eats the meat) and milk in the morning. This year we are going to have dairy at night because there is dairy stuff served at the shiur I go to at midnight. We will have the cheesecake in the morning for kiddush and have the meat later in the day. But learning is the main thing. I just hope I feel better by then because I am a little under the weather now.

goyisherebbe said...

Our youngest daughter still at home will probably do the blitzes. Hag sameach to all.

Batya said...

goyish, it's a good point about having dairy or parve-like fish at night because many people serve dairy snacks to stay awake during the night long classes.
One of my reasons for serving Shabbat like food on holidays is that I don't consider cooking a good way to spend the holidays. I want to doven and study and relax. Winkie does't barbecue and likes to keep the cooking to me.

Lorri M. said...

For me it is all about daven and study.

But, as far as food is concerned, I have Shabbat-like food. It is easy and quick, and I can get down to business, and even relax in between the business.

Batya said...

We ate fish and veggies, but it was all prepared in advance like for Shabbat.

Esser Agaroth said...

Dairy Mexican in the morning, and BBQ in the afternoon. :-)

This year, I made quesadillas with Israeli made corn tortillas without preservatives, chili rellenos, and bunuelo chips stuck into chocolate and vanilla ice cream.


Batya said...

Esser, sounds yummy!