I love the holiday of Shavuot !
As a vegetarian, my everyday life is based on non-meat dishes but this is exactly why I do my best to make the holiday dishes even more special.
A little introduction about the holiday itself:
Shavuot ("Pentecost") is an agricultural as well as historical and spiritual festival in the Torah. The word Shavuot means "weeks" in Hebrew. The holiday marks the ending of the seven weeks' counting, starting on the second evening of Passover.
This counting is based on the commandment in the Torah (Leviticus 23:15-16) to count 49 days -beginning from the day on which the sacrifice containing an Omer of Barley (Omer is a Biblical measure of grains) was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, until the day before the wheat was brought to the Temple on Shavuot. So these seven weeks are the time bridge between the barley and the wheat harvests.
This agricultural festival takes place in the Book of Ruth that we read on Shavuot.
Another reason for the seven-week counting is a religious and spiritual one: On Passover we celebrate our exodus from slavery to freedom. It took the people of Israel seven weeks in the desert to reach the mount of Sinai where they received the Holy Torah. So this holiday marks the Holy bond between G'd and Israel and the day in which the people of Israel received the divine gift of the moral laws of the Torah.
The Torah is referred to as milk, among many other metaphors.
In Song of Songs, chapter 4, there's a beautiful erotic love poem that describes spring in the land of Israel: 4:11 "Your lips, my bride, drip like the honeycomb. Honey and milk are under your tongue".
Ancient Jewish Rabbis (Chazal - Our Sages, may their memory be blessed) who studied and explored the Torah, said that this poem, among others, is a metaphor for the strong love between G'd and the people of Israel, when the Torah (Bible) was referred to as Milk and Honey (that should always be under one's tongue).
These are some of the reasons why Jews, especially Ashkenazi Jews (from Europe) eat dairy foods.
I come from a Romanian Jewish family who immigrated to Israel in the 1960's. I was born and raised in Israel but my grandmother, on my mother's side, used to cook and bake for us Romanian dishes almost every day and she inspired me and had a very strong effect on my love for cooking and baking and I want to dedicate this Holiday article to her.
Although Romanian Cuisine is based mostly on meat, there are also many dairy dishes that I, as a vegetarian, continue to make up till this day.
Here are some of my favorites savory dishes filled with dairy to celebrate Shavuot. Stay tuned for tomorrow I share Romanian Desserts.
Romanian cuisine uses simple, cheap ingredients . One of those is Cornmeal, which we also know from Mexican and Italian cuisine. One of the main dishes in Romania is called Mamaliga. It is actually very similar to the Italian Polenta and is some kind of a porridge made of boiled water and cornmeal cooked together. Romanians eat it with almost anything: Meat dishes, Fried eggs, Cooked vegetables and…cheese.
Classic Jewish Ashkenazic kreplach, but filled with cheese.
Cartofi Frantuzesti - French-Style Romanian Potatoes with cheese.
Savory Papanasi (pronounced: papanash)
Papanash are usually sweet cheese doughnuts or patties. However, I took my sweet recipe and turned it into a savory dish. You can serve them with the tomato sauce or without it. They're great anyway.