A Hungry Dog

This may seem an odd post as I’m heading off to Europe – but fabulous food pics are promised.

So finally I’m back … anybody there? I could make all sorts of excuses for my tardiness, like the crazy workload at semester’s end or the loss of my beautiful dog Tevye. In truth the dog’s death has thrown me entirely off course.

So how does this relate to food? How do our pets not relate to food? It’s what binds them to us, along with a place by the fire. In the case of dogs I do believe the deal is we feed them and they repel danger, as best they can. Tevye was a big dog and as long as no-one knew what a gentle loving soul he was, I knew I was always safe as long as he was around. He was also a hungry dog. I say this because I’ve been dog sitting for my daughter who is dog-sitting … you know how it goes! And this dog is not a hungry dog, in fact he seems disinterested in food which is a novel experience for me.

The worst place to be after losing a dog is in the kitchen. Tevye loved carrots. I learned about this from dear friend Emma who gives these to her dog Charlie for a treat. To a dog’s palate they must taste very sweet. Tevye loved his carrots and the faintest sound of the peeler was enough to get him into the kitchen, sometimes to be disappointed if I was peeling potatoes or zucchinis.

He died on a Friday and I’m not sure how I survived that weekend, I do remember it involved getting out of the house. By Monday I felt that it was time to cook a meal. I wanted to make a casserole. I braced myself, in fact I willed myself to peel a carrot. But how foolish did I feel looking down at that tear-stained cutting board.

Then there’s the pantry, which was the holy grail of dog biscuits and other treats. As if it were Aladdin’s cave he would spend hours staring through the glass panelled door – willing it to “open sesame”.

I’m okay with peeling carrots now, but can no longer cut the crusts off my toast. I don’t much like the crust, Tev loved it and if it had a hint of vegemite all the better. It was a highlight of his Uncles’ visits.

So I was coping better day by day. And then my daughter became ill and I made a batch of chicken soup. Chicken is generally still difficult because Tevye absolutely loved the cartilage from the drumstick and the fatty bits of skin I try not to eat. But a pot of chicken soup requires a chicken, and carrots. So the next day meant a mass of delicious scraps, devoid of much nutrition after half a day’s cooking, but filling for my hairy stomach on legs. I would happily remove the flesh from the bones and add it to his dry food.

But now there’s no Tevye to eat it. I’m not sure about bones in the compost so in the bin it went, while I gently wept.

I do love the book Stephanie’s Alexander’s Cook’s Companion. But it will never replace my canine companion. I know that one day another canine will keep me company in my kitchen, but it will be a while. “Too soon” as the young’uns say.

It’s a good line!

If like me, you are still a sucker for cooking programs but are fed up with the current offerings – try new SBS offering, The Chefs’ Line. http://www.sbs.com.au/food/programs/the-chefs-line

I can’t bear the thought of the impending season of Master Chef – the preview with underage gold egg producer is enough to put me off. All those gels, smoke and foams are enough to make me want to watch the Bachelorette.

Is there anyone else out there who watches cooking programs because they like to see food being cooked or want to learn something? Okay – confession, I’ve been watching MKR, even though the program rarely offers the drama suggested by their enticing promos. There’s only so much manipulation viewers can bear. After all how does an experienced Asian cook not put the lid on the rice cooker properly? And all those sudden temperature drops in the oven…almost as tedious as Master Chef’s miracle finishes. You know, the way 12 meals get plated in 30 seconds and wasn’t that tense and exciting? And why is WA’s own arsehole Josh still there when he and Amy seemed to lose in their elimination? Duh, how else would they drum up viewers for their turn to cook tonight? Save yourself the disappointment.

The Chef’s Line is hosted by chef Dan Hong. Who is Dan Hong? King of Sydney’s restaurant scene is who. He’s the guy setting up all those great eateries Justin Hemmes keeps coming up with.

Think: the sublime Mr Wong. He’s joined by bush tucker maestro Mark Olive. Not to mention food writer Melissa Leong and Maeve O’Meara of Food Safari fame.

Yes, there’s still a competition but we see five skilled ethnic cooks up against a pro from the kitchen of a top ethnic restaurant. Ready Steady Cook? Not at all. All class and you will see real folks cooking real food.

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The Emperor has new clothes

 

I’ve been a regular at the Emperor’s kitchen in Leeming for years –none of the hassle of getting parking in Northbridge and Yum Cha offerings which are as good as most. But we particularly loved the cheerful and attentive owner who was always there. But now he’s gone – I hope he is putting his feet up and enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

I’m told the new owner is a young mainland Chinese gentleman. The old place has been tarted up and looks much more inviting.

But I was never concerned about the décor, it was only ever about the food and they have kept up the old menu – all of my favourites: fat prawn dumplings, crispy squid, stuffed tofu and crunchy kai-lan.. All just as good.

IMG_2278But these little prawn dumplings are new and simply divine.

I love it when things change and stay the same.

 

This excellent piece from the Guardian is the tip of the iceberg and it’s such a shame so little has changed since I was a gel.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/29/want-to-know-what-its-like-to-be-a-woman-in-a-boys-club-ask-any-waitress

This excellent piece from the guardian is the tip of the iceberg and it’s such a shame so little has changed since I was a gel. I was a waitress for many years, in a planet far away. My first ever job was at “Grandfather’s Moustache” – what seemed in those days to be a fabulous Italian restaurant run by Greeks. After 5 weeks I got the sack – first and last time. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sacked for slapping the chef and co-owner every time he groped my 17 year-old arse. And I wasn’t sacked for the free food and drink I provided for my friends. I was sacked for ringing up an hour before my shift to call in sick. It was a good lesson to learn early on.

Sexual harassment was a very regular occurrence. I later worked in a restaurant where the signature dish was turkey breast – oh how original were the gibes. I even worked temporarily in a disco – yes, smartfoodmama is senior! This, I should add has earned me considerable cred with my students. Go figure: “yes, there was a mirror ball, yes the dance-floor lit up…”. Moving through the crowds I was once grabbed Trump style. I know I sent the cretin flying with my one free hand and the bouncers were happy to finish the job. In truth I was treated more respectfully by the merry band of gangsters running the place then by so-called hospitality professionals in years to come. I’ll always cherish this comment from the owner (read in heavy Balkan accent) “I like you, you good gel, you work with your brayn not your bum”.

Story three: Desperate for work I did a day’s trial in a large commercial seafood house of horror. Wandering in to the kitchen the very first comment from the chef to a waitress picking up a plate was: ”That’s not your meal you stupid f’ing c”. I worked through lunch but didn’t come back for the second shift.

There are many aspects of life in 2016/17 which should have been done away with back then, when I was a gel. That’s why I still call myself a feminist – yes “we’ve come a long way baby” – some of the boys need to catch up.

 

poykface farm

A Taste of …

Watching TV is so last century but as with many of my contemporaries, I like to watch the (big) box, free-to-air, no-frills. Yes, very last century. And as was the case last century the pickings have just gotten very lean as we slide into Xmas and the dreaded non-ratings season.

I’m a bit happy that the ABC is repeating selected food-themed Landline episodes on Fridays at 8, repeated on Sunday and readily available on I-View. http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/taste-of-landline/RA1502Q001S00

Last Friday’s stories included one of pastured eggs. These need not, of course, be organic but they are as free as free–range can be. I first became aware of this way of producing eggs from Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqbOU07ZI2k

 

Pastured eggs aren’t necessarily going to be organic, but the chickens live like chickens. Their mobile cages men that the chooks get a varied diet while fertilising various fields.

Pastured eggs straight from the farm are becoming more readily available. Freo folks can buy their pastured eggs from the good folks at Nibali Stockfeed.

http://www.nibalistockfeed.com.au/

Another story Landline ran was about experiments to include omega 3 into feed for lambs in an attempt to improve the health outcomes of meat eaters. I’m thinking eat more fish, but then we know there just isn’t enough fish for all of us. Which will bring us back to the question of where will that Omega 3 come from. Feeding ourselves, who said it was easy?

Next week’s taste of landline will feature stories on cattlewomen, that’s right women and the mighty Murray cod. I’m keen to earn more about this prized fish I may never eat.

Watching TV is so last century but as with many of my contemporaries, I like to watch the (big) box, free-to-air, no-frills. Yes, very last century. And as was the case last century the pickings have just gotten very lean as we slide into Xmas and the dreaded non-ratings season.

I’m a bit happy that the ABC is repeating selected food-themed Landline episodes on Fridays at 8, repeated on Sunday and readily available on I-View.

http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/taste-of-landline/RA1502Q001S00

Last Friday’s stories included one of pastured eggs. These need not, of course, be organic but they are as free as free–range can be. I first became aware of this way of producing eggs from Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm. If you’ve never watched Food Inc, please do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqbOU07ZI2k

poykface farm
Polyface farm

Pastured eggs aren’t necessarily going to be organic, but the chickens live like chickens. Their mobile cages men that the chooks get a varied, fresh and wholesome diet while fertilising various fields.

Pastured eggs straight from the farm are becoming more readily available. Freo folks can buy pastured eggs from the good folks at Nibali Stockfeed.

Home

Another story Landline ran was about experiments to include omega 3 into feed for lambs in an attempt to improve the health outcomes of meat eaters. I’m thinking eat more fish, but then we know there just isn’t enough fish for the world. Which will bring us back to the question of where will that Omega 3 come from. Feeding ourselves, who said it was easy?

Next week’s taste of landline will feature stories on cattlewomen, that’s right women and the mighty Murray cod. I’m keen to earn more about this prized fish I may never eat.

Remembering Sheila Newman 1922 – 2016

 

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Photo – Franki Pollick http://www.frankipollick.com.au/

It’s two months since we buried our mother; a remarkable woman who lived her life for others. Sheila was generous and she was brave. I’d like to say she was fearless, but only the ignorant are fearless. Being brave is having the strength to confront fear. Sheila was brave.

She complained all her life of the pain of her legs swollen by varicose veins. I was to blame apparently. She said she got varicose veins because she stood for so many hours with the other women of the Black Sash, protesting the apartheid regime whilst heavily pregnant with me.

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I asked her once: “Well why did you do it”? And she told me she didn’t want anyone to think she was afraid. That says so much about her. As far as my mother was concerned, what was in your heart was not enough – you had to use your voice and you had to call out wrongdoing. No surprises if I tell you that she picked me up from school aged 16 so I could join her picketing the Springbok Rugby team, having given me an absentee note my headmistress nearly choked on.

Generous? Yes. Sheila wanted so little herself; and gave so much to others. Her unrenovated kitchen in Murriverie Road, was her command centre – she would have fed the world if she could. I learned everything from her. I am my mother’s daughter, I have cooked for my living, taught food studies, written two theses on food but I will never give as much of myself as Sheila did.

Perhaps this excerpt from my MA thesis – Didn’t Your Mother Teach You Not to Talk With Your Mouth Full: Food, Families and Friction, will say what is so hard to express now that she has gone:

Mama cooks dinner every night and it’s such a comforting place to be, perched on my wooden stool, lecturing mama’s back. I wanted her to be ‘mama’, not plain ‘mum’; wanted her to cover her head with a shawl when she lit the candles on Friday night. Wanted a mother of image, of warm brown eyes, big soft bosoms and open heart. I wanted a ‘yiddische mama’, which was in fact what I had.

I see her standing before a steaming pot, ladling out bowls of pee-yellow chicken soup. How tenderly she scoops two glistening, plump matzoh balls into each one (and I wonder whether Marilyn Monroe really asked Arthur Miller’s mother what you do with the rest of the poor little matzoh); because it’s always two, you know, except for Dad, who gets three, and maybe Robin. We all get three, in the end, but first you have to eat two and then cajole, and promise to eat the rest of your dinner. But who wants it anyway when you can eat light as air, starchy dumplings, clear broth and just the loneliest bit of carrot?

Now I look back in awe, remembering how she was always home before we were, with the shopping, to spend a stolen half hour resting her swollen legs. And she never seemed to mind, or didn’t let me see, as she heaved herself from her bed and the paper and took up her position by the stove.

Was there ever a meal without three movements? And the up and down and backwards and forwards, me too, sometimes, while they sat, and we served. And I never even noticed, that she did it every day and how little we helped and how late it was before she finally sat down and rested those legs.

And now that I know more about the monotony of work that will never be finished, I marvel at her acceptance and the time that she did find for me. Ah, breathe deep, remember all the glorious matzoh balls of my youth, beat the eggs, boil the water and cook my little, light as air dumplings for my little family. What could make me happier than feeding my baby chicken soup and matzoh balls?

felicty-food-77-of-110     felicty-food-80-of-110

Want Mum’s kneidlach recipe?

http://www.smartfoodmama.com/time-chicken-soup/

In Jewish culture feeding anyone is considered a mitzvah, (a good deed which also blesses the doer), which is why we take our Jewish identity from our mothers. Many people assume this custom comes from a misogynistic suspicion of paternity. This isn’t the case –the old rabbis of the Gemara believed that men offer money to the needy while women will offer food and this is the holier act and after all, so much of Jewish practice is situated within the home. Certainly we learned all things Jewish from Mum.

There’s no doubt that Mum learned at her mother’s side as I did at hers. Her mother, our Nana, had been raised in a Dickensian Jewish orphanage where she starved. Nana wasn’t having a bar of Orthodox Judaism, and certainly there would be no fasting. No child would go hungry on her watch. On Yom Kippur Nana would stay home with food at the ready for any local children who escaped the Synagogue and came to her. Nana’s fear of hunger was over-whelming, she slept with a biscuit next to her bed every night.

Nana transferred this fear to my mother and then to me. Mum taught me that when it comes to food, only too much is enough. That is the Jewish way. But Mum did not waste food. It could be said she may have, at times, diced with death – hers and ours. But that’s another story, one I’ve told before: http://www.smartfoodmama.com/all-my-children-have-eaten-from-the-dogs-bowl-at-some-point/

Mum did not restrict her love and kindness to her children and grandchildren.  I have also written about her love for my cousins and their love of her:http://www.smartfoodmama.com/3024-2/

Mum spread love and food throughout her family circle but it went so much further. Friday night always with “mitschleppers” as my Dad would say. Shabbat dinners were usually followed by Saturday lunches – always with guests. Sure my Dad would (over)cook the chops and boerewors, but Mum would cover the table with other dishes – always sweetcorn, potato salad, pickled cucumbers, fried fish and her big wooden bowl of somewhat ordinary looking salad (this was the 60s – no quinoa or sprouts). Mum’s concern was never with presentation, only with abundance and flavour. My paternal grandmother once infamously said: “Well, with Sheila, quantity you will get”! Oh the slings and arrows she bore from her mother-in-law.

Mum and Dad helped the Smith family to come to emigrate from South Africa, possibly the first black family to sneak into Australia before the infamous white Australia policy came to an end. Ray was a baker and he opened a shop in Bondi Junction. Was it every Saturday that our mother went by his shop to pick up his left over stocks to take to the Wayside Chapel, or only most Saturdays?

Mum was 80 when she gave up delivering Meals on Wheels – how many of the recipients were younger than her?

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These photos were taken a month before she died, our last hurrah, I had exhausted Mum the day before with many hours of conversation, so she was not at her best and yet she was of course glad to see her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephew. I made her sausage rolls. Mum always baked these for parties – no store bought pastry of course – she would make them a week in advance and they always survived freezing so well. She taught me how to make this quick and easy pastry, but that’s one recipe I’m not sharing.

If you look closely you will see the packet of cheap wafers she hoed into with gusto. No point monitoring Mum’s diabetes any longer.

When the Second World War broke out Mum joined the Land Army: and here she is growing food for the nation:

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She loved those years on the land and how she loved her garden. My last house had a huge mulberry tree. It reminded me of our tree in Murriverie Rd. If you knew our frugal mother you may imagine what we suffered as a result – mulberry jam is one thing. We feared one day we would confront something like mulberry curry. Mum found a sucker growing under my mulberry tree here in Perth and she lovingly potted it. I brought it with me when we moved and duly neglected it. Carlos gave it some attention and it recovered. I planted it, and it has flourished. I love that tree and the knowledge that my mother is still feeding me.

The year I moved to Perth was probably the hardest of my life. We had found somewhere to live, and finally work. I was working in the city and came home one night to find a strange package in the fridge: a take-away container with 2 thick rubber bands round it. Those rubber bands looked scarily familiar but the grey stodge inside did not and some .. instinct told me not to open it. So instead I woke Jon up, he opened one eye and muttered “Your Muddah!”

I went back to the fridge, my jaw dropped in horror. Without dry ice, express post or even an airtight container, my mother had posted me a batch of gefilte fish. Just a take away container, her 2 signature elastic bands and brown paper. Perhaps she had glad-wrapped it – I don’t know because it had been stripped of its noxious wrapping.

I imagine the postman has long since recovered from the experience, though I doubt that his van was ever the same. He stood at the door holding this soggy, foul – smelling parcel, shaking his head and handed it to Jon with the question, “Mate! What is it?” Then he asked if he could wash his hands.

“Has she posted you any gefilte fish lately?” has become a family joke. I can’t tell the story without laughing so hard I cry. I remember phoning her the next day, when she answered the phone all I said was:

“Are you completely insane?”

She laughed and replied:

“Oh, it’s been quite cold here, is it still hot over there?”

Mum’s mental state was not, of course, the point. The point was her impulse, mad, generous and devoted. She had missed me at the Seder and sent a little something special for her prodigal daughter, as if it had the power to draw me back and seat me, at the table by her side with her other chicks. And I was lonely and so unhappy and had the gefilte fish survived, I would have eaten it and it would have taken me back to that table.

Mum always pretended to hate me telling that story. But I knew that was performance. She enjoyed her rebellious nature. And she certainly taught me a thing or two about that. My daughter Zenna and my nieces know that we follow a long line of dissident women (and excellent cooks).

Rest in peace Mum, your work is done.

Please add your own memories.

Her Eulogy follows:

Sheila Rhoda Newman 1922 – 2016

Born 1922 in Nottingham Sheila grew up in a tight-knit Orthodox community in Sunderland, England. She won a university scholarship but declined to take it up in order to work and support her family.

When WW2 began she quit her job and joined the Land Army growing food for the nation. She always said that she loved that time on the land, though the work was hard.

After the War she went with her mother Zena to reunite with her younger brother who had been evacuated to the safety of South Africa, where Sheila’s aunt Nita lived.

In Cape Town she met Hank Newman. Upon marrying Hank she became mother to his six-year old daughter Carol (now Phillips).

Robin, David and Felicity followed.

Sheila was a founding member of the Black Sash, the women’s movement opposing the Apartheid regime. Sheila was fearless in speaking up where she saw wrongdoing. In 1962 the family migrated to Australia.

As well as settling and caring for her family and friends, Sheila helped succeeding waves of migrants. Sheila and Hank helped the first coloured South Africans settle in Sydney and their home in Bondi was open to all.

Sheila was politically engaged all her life, even running twice for local council, when she called on voters to “put a Sheila on the council”! Sheila was a spirited woman of conviction. A proud feminist, she was a founding member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, and a member and President of her Toastmistress club for many years.

They say that if you want something done ask a busy person. Sheila only quit delivering meals on wheels at the age of 80.

Hank Newman was the great love of her life and she cared for him through many years of illness as she did for her mother Zena.

But the greatest joy in her life was her grandchildren: Robin and Valda’s children: Samantha Newman, Simon Newman and Lisa Newman, followed by David’s children Joel Newman and Grace Newman. Eventually a grandchild from Felicity: Zenna Newman-Santos.

Sheila was then finally blessed with great-grandchildren. Simon and Beth Newman’s beautiful Amelia Newman and Toby Newman.

Sheila’s life was a one of service to family and community. She was not a woman to sit still when there was help to be offered, mouths to be fed or children to be loved. Yet she was known for her candour, she spoke her mind and stood up for those in need.

She was a Yiddishe Mama in every sense of the word: loving, kind and strong.

Pallbearers:

Simon Newman, Joel Newman, Warren Jacobs and Max Jacobs.

 

 

Elena-Duggan-Bio

Confessions of a Masterchef viewer – my secret shame!

So tonight we get to see the grand “finaleee”, not final, of yet another Masterchef. And I care because…? Because I’m a shameless baby boomer TV-head who needed something to replace My Kitchen Rules when it finished. And my good friend Anne-Marie watches it too, so we further amuse ourselves exchanging vacuous text messages.

Yes I thoroughly enjoyed MKR because I love seeing Pet Evans eating all that non-Paleo food and who doesn’t like Manu? But what I really liked is the frisson. You know, watching people tearing each apart under the cold glare of the camera (yes still enjoying the afterglow of divorce) and then there’s the jaw dropping lack of boundaries some folks have. I mean was that woman really a lawyer? Does she still have a job? How far can a pouty puss extend her bottom lip? All the reasons I enjoy a bit of TV cookery bullshit.

Masterchef is something else. Its producers also know no boundaries – why should they when they claim credit for the food revolution sweeping Australia? When they have attracted a number of food heavy weights who should know better? (Marco Pierre White are you really such a pompous git? Maggie Beer I forgive you because you are a genuine legend and promoting the great work you are doing for geriatric nutrition).

So tonight’s “finale” will see Elena cook off against Matt. I’m not surprised to see that Matt has survived this far – he has clearly been singled out for glory early on, though why I can’t imagine. He certainly seems to have some flare but little commonsense or ability to read a recipe.

Elena-Duggan-BioMC_S8_Bio_small_Matt

But what really annoys me (apart from the awful dramatic music, pomposity of the judging panel, watching George eat and the miracle of everyone always finishing their dish) is those over the top chef-inspired challenges. Torture to watch, I don’t really understand their relationship to food. I thoroughly enjoy the invention tests and mystery box because folks are actually being creative. But tonight we will be subjected to the alchemy and uber-pretension Heston has become famous for.

Ah Heston. I used to love you! I understand Masterchef has increased your profile in Australia but do you really need this televisual ego-massage? And how do the smoked parfaits, the powders and foams relate to cooking?

How much vacuous padding will we hapless viewers endure before seeing the result?

And dare I ask the obvious question? If food is all you want to do why not do an apprenticeship or work in a restaurant to achieve your “food dream”?

I want Elena to win but I’m not sure I can sit through 2 hours of schmaltz. Reality TV? A secret pleasure – sweet as a Street’s Magnum and it also leaves a nauseating taste in my mouth.

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Kazoom!

I’m really enjoying Perth’s sunny autumn weather, there’s no better time for alfresco breakfast and no shortage of great choices but Kazoomies at the E-Shed certainly puts paid to that old chestnut about good food OR good view but never the twain!

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Nimrod Khazoom http://nimrodkazoom.com/kazoomies/ is well known to Freoites (the Sandcastle, Fremantle Arts Centre café), but I first tried his North African cuisine at a work event he catered last year, a glorious vegetarian feast.

Now that's a tagine!
Now that’s a tagine!

I’m a big fan of baba ganouj but Nimrod’s beetroot dip blew that out of the water.

So, armed with this knowledge we recently enjoyed his sensational breakfast menu. Tunisian domestic goddess Anne-Marie Medcalf reckons he makes the best shakshouka in town.

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Felafel afficiando Gaby Slade has endorsed the felafel.

And you can have it all:

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Smartfoodmama just loves it all.

Nimrod’s menu is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner and goes way beyond shakshuka and felafel.

Nimrod has been getting a lot of coverage lately – check  https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g285726-d8842937-r371018092-Kazoomies-Fremantle_Greater_Perth_Western_Australia.html#review371018092

for flasher pics than mine!

The only dilemma I can see for Nimrod is dividing himself between kitchen and customers – the man was born to schmooze. Love your work Nimrod Kazoom!

E Shed Markets

Peter Hughes Dr, Fremantle WA 6160

Booking:0401 839 058

nimrodis@hotmail.com

 

three generations

My Mum is surrounded!

My daughter is somewhat amused by my love of Mother’s Day. Especially since I usually express disdain for crass commercialism and enforced celebration. So I remind her of the many years I spent celebrating the day with my siblings, their wives and children. Always alone. I had accepted a life without children and taken responsibility for that. Don’t misunderstand me, there is a full and beautiful life to be had without children, but not if you desperately want children.

Mother’s day is not a happy day for all. Certainly not for those who wanted children but haven’t been blessed, for those who have lost their mothers or lost their children. We need to remember that not all mothers love and protect their children and that not all of us cherish mothers who have done their best.

My Mum is in care in Sydney and today she is lunching with my brothers and cousins, their partners and their children.

three generations
three generations

Mum is surrounded by those who love her. I have just spoken to her and heard their laughter in the background of a noisy Newman get together. But I won’t be there and she will miss me.

With "random" cousin
With “random” cousin

My cousins lost their Mum way too early and direct their affection to my Mum. And how happily we share her. I’ve written about the symbolic value of the all-embracing Jewish mother – to argue that we are all Jewish mothers,http://www.smartfoodmama.com/we-are-all-jewish-mothers/ that children need the love and care of the village. So on this mother’s day it’s good to take a moment to think about those for whom this day is bitter sweet, and sadly sometimes, just bitter.

 

Felicty Food (79 of 110)

Chag Sameach

So tonight the 8 days of Passover begin. Jews all over the world will eschew “leavened” foods in favour of 8 days of wrangling with crisp bread, potato starch and almond meal. We commemorate Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, in a hurry. The unbaked bread cooked flat as they fled, hence the eating of matzo. Then there’s the whole “puffiness” thing – and the idea of over-inflated egos – we should be humble and not eat foods that expand and swell, like rice or even legumes.

I’ve written before of the simple perfection of chicken soup and kneidlach, designed for this occasion. For more on the subject of Pesach, my recipe and thoughts on this quintessential, but much varied Jewish dish:

http://www.smartfoodmama.com/time-chicken-soup/

Sephardi Jews, having lived in the East do not consider rice to fall into the category of leavened foods while Ashkenazi Jews (my lot) wont touch it at this time. Being Jewish is regional! To be clear the vast majority of Jews identify as Jews but don’t follow all of the complex and time consuming demands of Kashruth. For MUCH more on this try http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm

But most of us will perform a seder of one kind or another – it’s been a while since I last staged a seder as I usually celebrate with friends from simchafreo http://simchafreo.info/

After years of this we have it down pat, even having the kinds of squabbles and disagreements families do.

Felicty Food (79 of 110)IMG_0583

Naturally, I am the matzo ball queen, while Anne-Marie is the queen of the lamb tagine. She usually cooks one with prunes and one with quince. And we Ashkenazi Jews are always happy to to do the cross-cultural thing and include rice.

Zoe is hosting us this year – she of the baker’s hands. We will have a number of desserts including Wendy’s tasty macaroons (no flour!). I cannot wait for Zoe’s glorious chocolate hazelnut cake.

For those of us who happily inhabit the Diaspora, though Passover symbolically enunciates the yearning for Israel, it simply celebrates freedom and the hope for a better life for all. We all want this.