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Yom Hashoah: Honoring My Grandparents

 

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As Holocaust survivors who thought in other languages, my grandparents sometimes had trouble expressing themselves to me in words, but they knew how to show their love with food.

My grandparents were skilled chefs who were always in the kitchen.  They cooked out of small spaces with old appliances and no special gadgets, yet they delivered the most luscious, unforgettable meals to their tables. The food they served filled everyone with love and warmth like a great big hug.

My mom’s parents were expert bakers, too.  They were famous for their Hungarian Dobos Torte (pronounced dobosh) – a 12 layer cake filled with homemade chocolate cream and topped with caramelized brown sugar.  They made this cake for birthdays and if there was any left over they would slice and freeze it.  To find a frozen slice of Dobos Torte was like finding treasure – we never waited for it to defrost before eating it.

Although he was an accomplished restaurant chef, aside from Dobos Torte, my grandmother never let my grandfather into her kitchen. It was only when she passed away that my grandfather, then in his mid 70s, officially took over the reins as family cook and host – having all of his extended family plus guests over for Rosh Hashanah or Thanksgiving or Shabbos or whenever.  He always had something fresh cooking on the stove.

My dad’s father was also a skilled professional cook whose nickname, “Chefu,” literally means chef in Romanian. He had the most incredible potato kugel – 6 inches high, crusty on the outside and light as a feather on the inside – authentic, how-it-was-meant-to-be-made chicken soup – and a few specialties like potato sour cream soup.  He and grandma cooked and baked and showed their love to us with every morsel.

Now that all my grandparents have all passed, I honor their memory each time I cook one of their recipes or welcome friends and family with food. This was a generation that could have withdrawn and been closed to the world. Instead they decided to engage; to show their love in a way that went beyond the words that sometimes escaped them.

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About Jamie Geller

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Jamie Geller is the only best-selling cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen – not because she doesn’t love food – but because she has tons to do. As “The Bride Who Knew Nothing” Jamie found her niche specializing in fast, fresh, family recipes. Now the "Queen of Kosher" (CBS) and the "Jewish Rachael Ray" (New York Times), she's the creative force behind JoyofKosher.com and "Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller" magazine . Jamie and her hubby live in Israel with their five busy kids who give her plenty of reasons to get out of the kitchen - quickly. Check out her new book, "Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes."

 

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One Response to Yom Hashoah: Honoring My Grandparents

  1. avatar says: Jamie

    I enjoyed reading about your memories of your grandparents’ cooking and baking. I,too, have special memories. As a youngster I would watch my maternal grandmother roll out dough on cloths on the dining room table. She would use it for kreplach or luchshen for chicken soup.
    I would sit next to my grandfather as he made chopped liver in the wooden bowl with the hockmeister. The best part was getting samples as he went along.
    My paternal grandfather was born in Turkey, which influenced the food he liked. He taught me how to make baklava, and I also got his recipe for burek. I never got the recipes from my grandmothers before they died, so I have to be satisfied with memories.

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