When I showed our almost 13-year-old daughter the menu I’d planned for the Kiddush lunch scheduled after her Bat Mitzvah and she asked me, “What’s a blintz?” I was shocked.
“You’ve never had a blintz?” I asked her. Impossible. What kind of Jewish mother has raised a child so close to becoming a Bat Mitzvah who has never tasted or even heard of a blintz? “Oy Vei!” The shame! The guilt! Especially since it was a favorite of her late grandfather, Theodore L. Gershun.
This is when I realized that there was some major culturalizing to be done. Never heard of a blintz????
I am proud to say that even in this Island culture where pork is the main dish at every luau and the Asian influence is more mainstream than influence, my children are no strangers to Jewish foods.
There is Challah on the Kiddush table after services every Friday night.
They make Hamantashen at Sunday school.
We’ve been to Jewish delis in both L.A. and New York, so they know a good corned beef sandwich and an authentic kosher pickle when they taste them.
I’m a huge fan of falafel and humus and pita, so the Middle Eastern influence has been served up right at our dinner table.
And there’s plenty of holiday cooking in this house. We have not been remiss in that department.
She’s just never had a blintz.
When I was planning the menu for that particular meal, I had several goals in mind. First of all, I wanted it to be what we call a dairy meal, which translates to no meat in any of the dishes. Fish is okay, but beef or lamb or chicken are not. Certainly not pork or shellfish.
In the kosher style, we do not mix milk and meat.
I also wanted it to be what I consider kind of traditional.
While Mainlanders might get tired of another buffet with bagels and cream cheese and tuna and egg salad, that doesn’t happen around here very often. I miss it.
What I am tired of is a meal that consists of toss (omit the ed,) salad, macaroni salad, rice, fried noodles, teriyaki chicken and Mahi Mahi. That’s pretty much the mainstay of most catered meals I consume around here.
That’s why I chose bagels and cream cheese and humus and pita and veggies and…….blintzes.
A few months before the big event I was in California for a reunion. I also got to celebrate my childhood friend Kathy’s 4?th birthday. We enjoyed a Sunday brunch buffet on the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
To my extreme excitement, among the other 173 choices, there were blintzes. I immediately got out my phone. Took a picture and texted it to my daughter who was at home in Hawaii. While her response of “K” seemed a bit nonplussed, I was consoled at the opportunity to give her a digital heads up that these things really do exist.
Her grandfather loved them and they even serve them on the QUEEN MARY. Her Royal Highness had my back.
The other thing I realized when I was going over the menu for this incredibly important celebration in our family life was that perhaps I should let the Bat Mitzvah girl have a bit of input in our choices.
This was, after all, HER rite of passage. While I was not inclined to remove the blintzes from the menu, I was certainly happy to include a request or two from her. They turned out to be reasonable: lox and cake. She loves lox and really wanted cake for dessert.
Considering the hours of studying she was putting in each day, the hours of driving back and forth to the Temple we were both traveling for her study sessions with the Cantor and Rabbi and the not so delicious meals we were consuming in transit, lox and cake seemed a fair reward for a job well done.
Not to mention the incredible satisfaction and connection and pride and all the other delicious feelings that go with this special moment.
And it was a special moment, a celebration, sharing our culture’s food as a symbol of our joy. My father’s blintzes, the Bat Mitzvah girl’s cake and a Jewish Mother’s love and pride in a daughter, and a menu, carefully prepared for such an important day in our family and community’s lives.