We never called her Bubbie. We called the lady named Anuschka Serdahely Fulop “Grendma,” because that’s what she called herself.
Grendma: “Sveeetheart, det’s you GRENDma!”
Me, Susie, age 9: “Grandma, the second I hear your voice I know it’s you.”
Grendma: “Vell suuure!!! Det vould’n be me, who vould det be? Suu-sie, you van’ go pick cherries at Mrs. Thomas house? Cherries is ripe, Grendma and Mrs. Thomas is going make cherries jam, but old ladies too fet to climb in det tree.”
Susie: “Sure, I love the cherry tree. And the palacsinta with cherry jam. Will you make some?”
Grendma: “Vell, sure!” Sveetheart, I van’ to know vat is right talking English… [Oh no, oh no…another grammatical abyss yawns before me.] One voman, two vomen, three vomans? Det’s right?”
Susie: Uh, yes – yes, that’s right. [I knew better than to ever get into this kind of conservation.]
Grenda was born in Hungary in 1884. First kitchen job at age 6: standing on a box in the kitchen kneading bread on the wooden table top at the crack of dawn every morning.
“If I am not turn det bread, punch det bread hard enough my mudder will kick me ven she valk by.” At 19, Grendma immigrated to Milwaukee to join her sister, and was forced to marry Janos Fulop at age 20. Many years later when my cousin went to tell Grendma that she was leaving her husband because she didn’t love him anymore, Grendma said, “Yo!, I marry to you grendfather 17 years – who loved him?”
She started the butcher shop in a neighborhood then called Johnson’s Woods. There she made the soon to-be-famous Hungarian sausages, especially the spicy orange ones that people would line up around the block to buy on Saturday morning.
She dragged beef carcasses across the yard, chopped countless heads off countless chickens, ducks, and sometimes a goose.
“Sveetheart, you dasn’t make duck or goose – det’s too much fet. Det’s real dangerous, you drop det fet on you foot – oh boy.”
While she dragged, hauled, toiled, and rendered lard for every purpose, the grandfather I never met played his violin on the front steps of the shop, “sitting on det step, he is drinking warm red vine from a pan on da stove all day. He never like Milwaukee.”
When I was a girl, the menu for Thanksgiving at Grendma’s was set in stone. Turkey, stuffing made with chicken livers and parsley, duck, fried chicken, rice pilaf, beets (beets were a holy food in Grendma’s house, harvested from sacred beet plot beside the garage.)
Grendma would stand at the head of the table with a glass of “Morgen David” in hand, look around at all her sons and the rest of us, and say, “Tenks God ve is all healt’y!”
Salad was called “sha-lah-day.” Every time, she would turn to my step-grandfather and ask, “Old man, you van’ shalahday?” And every time, he would answer, “No! I don’ van no shaladay. I don’ like shalahday.” My brother and I still say this when passing the salad.
And then, when all the uncles were torpid, seeming acres of retes [strudel) that had been cooling under towels on the back porch were put before us. Apple, poppy-seed, and walnut. And after that, the piece de resistance would be carried into the dining room on a vast tray by Grendma.
Small glass dishes of shimmering, red American Jello, “Sveethearts, now is come – Jello!” Brought to us by Grendma, who happened to be born on the 4th of July.
This post was submitted by Susan Kepner.
My parents were Holocaust survivors. Even my brother was born in Europe. I was born 3 weeks after they came to America. In other ways, though, we were pretty ordinary. My dad worked 6 days a week, my mom watched her kids and the neighbors’ kids; my brother and I fought like cats and dogs.
The one thing my brother and I agreed on was mom’s marble cake- the best ever. Because she wasn’t familiar with American products or measurements, she created all her own recipes. As the years went by, I realized I would never be able to re-create those treats, so I asked her to measure out her handfuls of flour and scoops of sugar, and write everything down.
My mom dies 6 years ago and I inherited her cookbook, along with the magical marble cake. She had faithfully recorded the flour and sugar in cups and tablespoons. The wet ingredients, however, said “a spoon sour cream” and “a glass milk.” I still haven’t gotten it right.
This post was submitted by Fran Samuels.
Everything that my grandmother made, tasted good. I remember going over to my grandparents house for the weekend, and having coffee in my little tin cup. It was delicious!
I also enjoyed the way my grandmother made MAYPO. I found out as an adult what made it so special was she warmed the milk and poured it over the MAYPO. Delicious.
What I will always remember is when my grandmother would make my favorite cake- “German Sweet Chocolate Cake” for my birthday. Yummy! When I was about 13, my grandmother taught me how to bake that cake, and I was in cake heaven. Needless to say, German Chocolate cake became my favorite cake and everyone elses. I became the German Chocolate cake-baker thanks to my Grandma
This post was submitted by Robin Stephens.
With a name like Weinerman, one would think we had some secret family recipes. We DID NOT. The only thing my mother and grandmother made was oatmeal and reservations…..with love.
Because Weinerman was difficult for Goyim to spell, my father started calling himself Dr. Winters. He wasn’t a doctor, he just thought he could get a better table if he said that. I guess that was a secret recipe after all.
This post was submitted by Vicki Winters nee Weinerman.
Back in high school when I was 14, I accidentally used baking soda instead of flour in my first ever sponge cake baking effort….
Needless to say, the “cake” exploded in the oven – the rest of the class was spent learning how to clean the oven! My grandmother was mortified
This post was submitted by Fiona Whitby.
My earliest childhood memory of food was when my parents and I would go to Flushing on Saturday mornings to buy live crab. We would take them home and I would race them on my kitchen floor til It was time for mom to throw in boiling water.
Then we would feast on crab on top of newspaper sheets on our patio deck wooden table. Great times with family and food!
This post was submitted by Cynthia Martin.
The first time my parents left me alone with my younger brothers, my mom left food, including a cooked tongue. Remembering that I’d seen my mother take off the skin, I started cutting away- making the very smooth curved tongue, look strangely angular.
A while later, my 4 years younger brother entered the kitchen, took a look and asked what I was doing. He had a good laugh when he said “it’s off already.” No wonder I was having so much trouble!!
This post was submitted by Judith Sussman.
My mother is an amazing cook, but coveted our neighbor’s “famous” cheesecake – not so much because she enjoyed it, but because she couldn’t make cheesecake. After months of trial and effort, she finally came up with a cake that was comparable to our neighbor’s recipe.
She excitedly invited our neighbor over to sample her chef d’oeuvre. While preparing tea, my mother made the mistake of leaving the cheesecake in the dining room with our vivacious cocker spaniel. I didn’t know a 25lb dog could eat 5lbs of cake….
This post was submitted by Josh Moldovan.
My father’s mother was the consummate food snob. In fact, she was a snob about most things. She was a huge entertainer, though not a cook. For her weekly card games (I think canasta) she prepared eleven invitations, centerpieces, place cards- you name it- but would have the food catered.
After one such event, my mother came to visit as my grandmother was bout to throw the whole untouched poached salmon in the trash. My mother stopped her just in time take the salmon off her hands. Leftovers were beneath her, but not of course, my mother.
This post was submitted by Jessica Healy.
Bloomie eventually reckoned with the fact that Chelm’s Pond and Paradise were the same place, although she never figured out why. Nonetheless, and perhaps all the more, she worked hard in the diner and, as she grew older, her aspirations to become the manager and proprietor grew stronger. She felt the diner should have a clever and catchy name, like those of the more conventional eating establishments she had been impressed by in her visits to the neighboring villages. Names like the White Birch Café in Tupper Lake, or Marty’s Chili Nights, the Mexican restaurant in Indian Lake, or Custard’s Last Stand, the ice cream shop in Long Lake. And too, she wanted a name that was unmistakably and uniquely characteristic of Chelm’s Pond. Read the rest of this entry »
This post was submitted by Sandor Schuman.