The Jewish calendar seems to be aligned with your visits home this year. Maybe it’s the food. Passover and Shavuot are some of your favorite eating holidays—I‘m already starting to prepare for your arrival on Shavuot.
Fortunately, as Jews, there seems to always be a holiday to celebrate or commemorate and some kind of associated food indulgence. Shabbat conveniently inserts itself into every week providing a ready excuse for food and family.
Shavuot is upon us, and the farmer’s cheese for blintzes waiting in my freezer was calling to me. The last time I made Bubbe’s blintzes, the dough skins were too thick or stuck to the frying pan or fell apart when I filled them. Although edible, I knew I hadn’t yet achieved the Bubbe Blintz standard of excellence.
It was time to try again. I knew from the very first blintz dough that I was in some kind of Bubbe zone. With my shmata (rag) on my head and my ceramic pan in hand, I turned out 60 or so paper thin crepe skins with ease and relative perfection. I was transported right back to Bubbe’s kitchen—watching her magically flip a perfect circle of translucent lightly browned dough onto a torn open brown paper grocery sack, waiting for her to mess one up so I could eat it fresh out of the buttery frying pan. Sometimes she would mess one up on purpose because she knew how much I loved them.
The very same taste and texture and aroma came out of my kitchen. Bubbe’s blintzes have become mine.
Food was and is such a big deal in all our lives. Bubbe and Zayde’s early experiences of extreme hunger ensured that no one in our family would ever have the opportunity (at least not under their watch) to encounter even a remote sensation of hunger. Stuffed was the only satisfactory response to “Did you have enough?”
Food deprivation as a motivator has long been replaced with the privilege of inviting friends and family into our home to celebrate our passion for cooking and feeding the people we love. We carry on the legacy of physical and emotional sustenance through food.
I am so grateful that we have the gift of food, that we don’t have to worry about having enough, that we can nurture ourselves and others and that our food serves to immortalize the foundation that brought us to this moment and becomes a bridge to generations to come.
Speaking of bridges…I tried your new twist on my classic cheese grits recipe, and it was excellent! You can count on having your smoked cheddar cheese grits for Shavuot dinner to accompany some grilled fresh fish and a huge green salad. You don’t know how much pleasure it gives me to know that you have skillfully picked up the food baton and are, with ingenuity and generosity, carrying on a much celebrated family tradition.