It’s the Festival of Weeks in the Hebrew calendar and one of the traditions faithfully observed by everyone and not only the faithful, is the eating of dairy foods such as cheesecake. So a notice appeared on the retirement home notice board calling for residents to bake their cheese cakes and bring them down to the dining room at 4pm on the eve of the festival. Sounds innocent, doesn’t it. This is the throwing down a of public gauntlet! Do you think there is any woman in this retirement home who doesn’t know that her cheesecake is the best in the world?
I will be there, not bearing a cheesecake, but ready to sample and taste. I will be the leading unofficial, unpaid cheesecake taster and judge. It’s a “no-brainer”. There are something like 180 elderly, er, Golden Aged women living here. Average age is about 80, meaning cooking experience per woman is about 50 years. Simple multiplication says that the total years of cooking experience is 4,000 years. Man, cheesecake with a track record like that behind it just has to be something special.
Today I wandered into the small supermarket here in the building and watched the action: the grabbing of packets of flour, the scrabbling over tubs of white, smooth cheese, cottage cheese and other cheeses. I saw these veteran cooks staggering back to their apartments, weighed down with cheesecake makings, their faces set in grim concentration, making sure that no ingredient had been forgotten.
Soon the kneading and rolling and cutting will begin. Old baking pans will appear from the backs of the small cupboards where they reside waiting for this bake-off. The ovens will heat up and finally the aroma of baking will fill the corridors.
At 3:30 I will be staked out in the dining room, my little bag of anti-cholesterol pills in my pocket and my mouth watering in anticipation. I hope you get some too…