Skip To Content

Zayde’s Top-Secret Recipe

“For me, noodle kugel has special significance because it is the one thing that I get credit for,” said my maternal grandpa, who I call Zayde.

As you can tell from his daily eating routine, Zayde is not much of a chef. Though he can’t recall when my great-grandmother (and namesake) Goldie gave him the recipe, he remembers that he was never allowed to help make it as a kid. “I don’t know if that was because I was a boy, or just didn’t really do kitchen things,” he said.

But in his mind, the ability to make delicious noodle kugel is “the one thing that makes me normal,” he said. “If I’m going somewhere, I can bring something that is my own.” Zadie has brought the kugel to a friend’s house for Yom Kippur break fast and has made it for retirement parties and countless family get togethers.

Though it was loved and devoured at many a family event when Zayde was growing up, Goldie was the only one to ever make it. Her three sisters, Celia, Rochelle and Yeta, would never make it, knowing it was Goldie’s thing, Zayde explained.

“I always thought that it was really healthy, but now I’m looking at the ingredients… there’s raisins and a ton of sugar,” Zayde said.

Whenever Goldie served it, she would always say that there was “just a little bit of sugar.” Because “just a little bit” really meant three cups, my family and I always jokingly say that phrase as we heap sugar into our coffee or the baked goods we’re making.

In addition to the “little bit of sugar,” there is one more secret ingredient: pineapple. You would never guess that there was sweet canned pineapple in this dish, and Goldie always liked to keep the surprise ingredient a secret.

And of course, by “keep it a secret,” I mean that whenever she would serve the dish, she would always tell you about the pineapple as if she was letting you in on state secrets.

And Zayde is clearly still trying to keep that secret for his mom: When he was talking about it on the phone he went into a whisper, even though he had already told me about the pineapple and I knew that he was alone in his house.

Gustie Owens is a senior in high school at Horace Mann in Riverdale, New York. She is editor-in-chief of her school’s award-winning weekly newspaper, The Record.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.