Thank You, Hilda!

I’m proud of the fact that I grew up in a racially diverse neighborhood. Like it or not, we all lived side by side, for better or for worse. Name an ethnicity, and we pretty much had it covered. From Jewish, German, African American, Asian, Latin, and all shades of beige, we somehow managed to live together without too much fuss; at least, I’d like to remember it that way.

My neighborhood friends were all so young when we met each other that the racial barriers that often separate folks from each other were non-existent then. Yes, some bad things happened, but I seem to have purposely, yet unintentionally blocked these negative experiences out of my head, choosing to remember that we all got along and lived together contently.

Back then, one of my closest friends was a girl named Natalie. Natalie was of Jewish descent and had dirty blond hair with green eyes, which I was envious of. Natalie’s mom was Hilda, a stay-at-home mom whom I remember as congenial and fun for the most part, aside from occasional bursts of yelling, which Natalie and the rest of us certainly deserved. For example, I remember the time we had a tomato fight in her backyard. We carelessly snatched the tomatoes she had been lovingly growing all summer long and started lobbing them at each other while laughing maniacally. Guess that was a bad idea. I got sent home, and Natalie and I didn’t see each other for a whole week. I chuckle as I write this now, although it’s really not so funny once you become a grown-up.

But I digress. It must have been around Shavuot, the holiday commemorating when the Torah was given to the Jewish people when Hilda made blintzes. She was always willing to have us “help” her prepare these delicious cheese-stuffed crepes, which I swear I can still remember and savor the taste of to this day.

My food memories are quite vivid. Ask me about an event in my past, and I’ll tell you what I ate back then. My blintzes-making moments with Hilda and Natalie all came flooding back to me when we recently worked on a crepe feature at the magazine. Hilda let us help her make blintzes so often that it became pretty instinctive for me to know that they could be frozen once filled, then fried to perfection directly from the freezer, which is a great make-ahead tip! As a matter of fact, this reminds me that I still have a few frozen blintzes from our last cross-test in the test kitchen. My boyfriend, Russ, and I will be having them for breakfast, for sure, in the morning.

So thank you, Hilda, thank you for teaching me how to freeze and reheat blintzes 20-something years ago, which stuck in my head so much so that I was able to draw from it and use it in a beneficial way today. Sorry about the tomatoes.

Since the Fine Cooking website was shut down, you can email for the recipe. Also, consider joining the Fine Cooking Community group on Facebook!

—Chef Diana

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.