This is the time of the of the year when I reflect back to my past. Nothing triggers memories quite like the aroma of holiday meals being prepared. When I smell the chicken soup simmering on the stove of the brisket roasting in the oven I think of the meals that my mother used to prepare when I was a child and until her death several years past.
I also think of my grandmother. Sarah came to this country in the late 1800’s from Russia/Poland/Lithuania. It was never clear because the boarders were blurred in those days and Jews never really belonged anywhere then. She spoke Polish if that is a clue and she was able to converse easily to the Slavic mill workers in the small town in eastern Maine where they settled and opened a clothing store.
I and her many grandchildren called her Baubie. I have no idea if that is a correct spelling but I am sure there is a Yiddish derivative. Anyway she looked like a grandmother. Her hair was long with braids always wrapped around her head to be out of the way so she could take care of her family. She was a pioneer. She was a true matriarch.
But I digress. I wanted to tell you about the meal she would serve on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. First their was gefilte fish not from a jar but hand made with love using the fresh combination of white fish and carp. The gefilte fish was boiled and simmered then placed on platter on a bed of lettuce, with boiled slice carrots and red horse radish. Oh yes on the side would be a specially stuffed fish head for my Uncle Larry.
Next would come the chicken soup with thin noodles and giblets. Now in those days when you bought a chicken very often it had in it eggs. Not with the shells but unformed eggs which she would add to the soup and they would cook like yokes. I don’t know how she did it but magically from one or two chickens she would come up with about a dozen eggs to hand out to the grandchildren.
If your still with me hear comes the roast turkey, along with a potato kugel which had been baked in a bowl and had the most beautiful crispy crust over it. Along with vegetables in case that wasn’t enough she had prepared a tsimis.
A tsimis is like a large stew made with flanken or brisket, potatoes, carrots, prunes, yet again potato dumplings on the top cooked for hours in the oven. This, believe it or not would be served as a side dish. I almost forgot while she was preparing all of this by herself she tear off a couple of homemade challahs shaped round and braided.
All this served among the oohs and ahs form the family. And if you weren’t full there was always desert or deserts because Baubie wanted to make sure everybody had enough to eat and to take some home.
Lest I forget whatever Baubie served up it was always with love and a smile.
I miss you Baubie.
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