Bat Mitzvah blintzes

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.

Keeping it Kosher—Local Style

My oldest daughter occasionally stays after Sunday school for a youth group event or Purim play practice or  other extracurricular activities. On the days that I am not driving for the carpool and cannot pick up lunch and bring it to her at noon like the good Jewish mother that I am, she  takes a sack lunch.

This requires a bit of forethought and planning.

Growing up in Hawaii means growing up eating the local food and in that respect she is totally  a “Local Girl.”

Lunch on the go translates to: Spam musubi, or manapua

California roll, fried noodles, Cup Noodles or maybe a Hot Pocket are also acceptable choices.

A peanut butter, or even bologna, sandwich is not the status quo.

This presents no problems on a regular school day or for the occasional field trip. I insist she add in some healthy items like fruits and vegetables and we strike a decent balance.

But when she goes to Temple, none of these are acceptable.

We are Reform Jews and choose not to keep Kosher at home. But we do respect the general Kosher style that is observed at our Synagogue: No pork, shellfish, or combination of meat and dairy foods.

When she realized that Spam musubi and manapua are filled with pork, California roll has imitation crab which seems disrespectful in my book, Cup Noodles contains dried shrimp and Hot Pockets are usually a mixture of milk and meat (at least the ones she likes,) she was shocked.

I chuckled. “This is a good lesson for you,” I told her.

The bagel and cream cheese I offered or the humus and pita she often likes at home were not deemed  reasonable substitutes (did I forget to mention that she is 13 and at that age nothing is a reasonable substitute for your first choice that you cannot have.)

We had to come up with alternatives.

Luckily, she is not completely unreasonable and I have some decent problem solving skills.

Not only Spam and fake crab meat go well with rice. You can make a tuna fish salad hand roll or a plain cucumber maki. She likes both of those. Hot rice with a package of roasted seaweed also makes the cut.

Instead of char siu in the manapua, you can buy them with chicken or vegetables. I know, it’s not the same, but it is a compromise.

Bottom line, I can’t resist telling her, “You should be happy to have food in your mouth.”

Of course, she agrees. And, in a pinch, a peanut butter sandwich will do just fine.