Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.

Getting My Dairy On

Posted: May 20, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

We all know that many Jews love their brisket, pastrami and other heavy meats. But did you know that one of the most important Jewish holidays mandates eating dairy? Yup, Shavuot, which started Tuesday night and ends tonight, is one of the biggest holidays of the year; it celebrates when Jews received the Torah brought down by Moses from Mount Sinai in the desert, after the Exodus. Since this is when officially “the Hebrews” became actual “Jews”, we were mandated to follow all the commandments and mitzvot (good deeds), including keeping kosher. Well, since people didn’t want to make any mistakes at first and eat non-kosher meat by accident, everyone ate only dairy products during this time. Contemporary Jews honor this by eating cheesecake. Really! We also stay up all night learning Torah or topics that relate to Judaism. It’s a very fun holiday.

This year I spent Shavuot amongst thousands of people at the JCC on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a heavily young, Jewish neighborhood. For the first night the JCC as well as many synagogues host all-night programming such as lectures and discussion groups; the JCC also had live concerts, yoga, Israeli karaoke and of course thick slices of cheesecake! Coffee and chocolate candies were liberally distributed too, to keep everyone awake until 4 AM, when the last sessions ended. Unfortunately I could only keep my eyes open until about 1, and went home then.

A cousin had invited me for Shavuot lunch yesterday and it was a typical homemade Syrian dairy meal: green salad; quinoa tabbouleh; samboosak — savory, flaky pastries stuffed with munster cheese; noodle casserole with cheese calsonnes (doughy dumplings, stuffed also with cheese); baked salmon; spinach and chickpeas in a baked filo dough (kind of like spanakopita); and kousa jibneh, which is a squash and zucchini quiche sans crust. The eight of us ate very well! Incredibly, the enormous amount of food served was actually quite typical. Leftovers are a given and are usually eaten later for dinner or the following day.

Troubling, for me, is the Syrian custom of leaving all the food on the table during the entire meal which means I will end up picking at far more than I am able to eat! Case in point were my cousin’s homemade brownies; I ended up eating about five or six of them. Eeep!! Note to self and everyone else: don’t leave food in front of you unless you want to eat it all.

My cousin gave me leftovers of everything (of course) so my plan for the rest of this dairy-tastic holiday is to eat smaller portions and spread it out over the course of a couple of days. I’ll still be getting my dairy on, just not so intensely!


3 Comments on “Getting My Dairy On”

  1. 1 Alyssa said at 1:39 pm on May 21, 2010:

    A day of cheese? Yes Please!! Can I request posts about samboosak and calsonnes?

  2. 2 Bakezilla said at 9:56 am on May 24, 2010:

    What a cool holiday! Sounds like a blast. Cheesecake for everyone? Yes please!

    Also, have you ever been to Artie’s on the UWS? Their cheese blintzes are superb! They’d be a great Shavout treat.

  3. 3 bluejeangourmet said at 12:30 pm on May 25, 2010:

    I work at a Jewish school and we had cheesecake on Erev Shavuot! didn’t look quite as good as these slices, though :)

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.