On Shavuot, both super-secular and super-religious Israelis stay up all night to celebrate the giving of the torah on Mount Sinai-- see this great post from Isreality: The White Holiday. Well, actually I'm not sure the Tel Avivians running around in white clothing all night are really thinking about the Torah... but then I doubt that all Americans on Easter Egg hunts are thinking about death on the cross. I honestly didn't realize Shavuot existed until college, but here-- like every other Jewish holiday-- Shavuot is celebrated on TV, in the crowded lines of people buying cheeses in the grocery store, in the homes of everyone I know.
We're staying home and eating a dairy meal: Spanikopita and Salmon, as well as cheese cake for desert. This may not sound particularly Israeli (and probably isn't), but I did decide to do something Israeli for my cheesecake: I followed an Israeli recipe.
Let me explain: you can get most of the same ingredients that we use for American cheesecake here, just as you can get coffee grounds. But this takes effort. American-style cream cheese, for example, is harder to find-- and it is named after places in the US, like "Philadelphia" and "Alaska." (On Shavuot, of course, the dairy and cream cheese section of our supermarket doubles in size, and I could have found "Philadelphia.") The more common Israeli cream cheese, on the other hand, which I used in my Israeli recipe this year, is a little more watery. Some Israeli cheesecake recipes even use labaneh (which is something between a cheese and a yogurt) in place of cream cheese altogether. I have not seen American graham crackers anywhere in Israel; instead, we have "petit-beurre" (or "peti-bar") cookies.
I decided to opt out of the more adventurous recipes in my Israeli pastry cookbook-- cheesecake with dates in the filling, for example. Maybe next year.
Like anything else, making cheesecake after aliyah takes an adjustment-- but the result (sitting in my fridge right now) looks delicious. Happy Shavuot!
My husband and I (and our cat Zeus) made aliyah to northern Israel in April, 2008. In Israel, we adopted two street kittens who have proceeded to make up for kittenhoods of deprivation by growing remarkably fat and shiny. In October of 2011, we welcomed our first daughter, Nitsah. Moving to a new country demands both a sense of wonder and a sense of humor. In this blog, I'll try to share both! DISCLAIMER: I actually can't tell you how to be Israeli, because I'm still working on it myself. But at least we can muddle towards Israeli-ness together!