Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the arrival of the spring harvest. But, for food lovers, it is noted for the array of dairy foods that are served — delicious combinations of cheese, sour cream, milk and eggs. Also in abundance are “stuffed” foods, such as blintzes with cheese fillings.
With its tradition of dairy meals, Shavuot is one of my favorite holidays. Arriving later in the spring -- an ideal time to find delicious fruits, herbs and vegetables -- it's perfect for using fresh and seasonal ingredients.
Shavuot, which marks the receiving of the Ten Commandments by Moses, was often referred to as the Jewish Thanksgiving or the "Feast of the First Fruits," a time when farm bounty and grains were brought to the ancient Temple. The harvest often included wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.
In modern times, Shavuot inspires the preparation of many delicious and traditional recipes that usually feature a variety of vegetarian and dairy foods. Milk, eggs and cheeses of all kinds are used in abundance.
When I was growing up, two types of food were usually associated with the holiday of Shavuot. There were the dairy dishes -- blintzes, knishes, noodle kugels and, of course, cheesecake. Most of us remember them from our childhood, but they were always laden with cream, butter and cheese, and may not appeal to our diet today.