In a few days, both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church will celebrate Pentecost, also known as the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the final moment of the Easter Season.
On the fiftieth day after the Resurrection – hence the name, from Ancient Greek ?e?t???st? – the entire Christianity recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit among the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, a moment that marks the birth of the first Church of Jerusalem.
Pentecost, however, is not originally a Christian holiday, but a Jewish one. Christians and Jews may share at least some of their respective sacred books, but they do take different views on some of the stories in them, such as the one of Pentecost.
Pentecost is in fact the name that Greek-speaking Jews from Hellenistic times gave to the Feast of Weeks, a prominent time in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, fifty days after the Exodus of Passover. This feast is still celebrated today in Judaism but goes under another name, Shavuot.
Pentecost is still very much felt in Western Europe, in countries such as Germany, Austria, UK (where it’s called Whitsun and is a public holiday) and France, while in Italy it usually passes a bit ‘on the sly for the average person. In the Jewish world, on the other hand, Pentecost – aka Shavuot – is one of the most joyous holidays on the calendar and is widely celebrated.
There are many customs associated with the festival of Shavuot: i.e., people remain awake the entire night, from dusk to dawn, to study the Bible. Since we are, however, more into “food related” traditions, I’ll share with you a traditional Jewish recipe for this holiday, that of blintzes, sweet crepes filled with white cheese.
Eating a dairy meal on Shavuot is an enduring tradition, because milk is a food with a highly symbolic meaning: just as milk has the ability to fully sustain the body of a nursing baby, so the word of God provides all the spiritual nourishment necessary for the human soul.
For the crepes
300 g flour
400 ml milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
oil to grease the pan
For the filling
500 g ricotta or cream cheese
50 g sugar
1 very fresh organic egg (to be eaten raw) or 2 tablespoons of milk
1 vanilla pod
First of all, prepare the batter for the crepes .
Whisk flour and milk until smooth and creamy, then add melted butter and eggs, continuing to whisk.
Let the batter rest for a few hours: it is not essential to do so, but the crepes are better and smoother this way.
In the meantime, prepare the filling, by simply stirring with a fork all the ingredients.
Heat a lightly greased frying pan: when the pan is piping hot, pour a thin layer of batter in it and spread it nicely.
Let the crepes cook for about a minute, on one side only; once they are ready, let them slide carefully on a plate.
Put a tablespoon of filling on each crepe, then fold the sides and roll to obtain a nice parcel.
When all the rolls are ready, transfer them back to the pan, to cook until evenly golden on all sides.
Serve warm blintzes with fresh fruit, jam or any sauce you like .