Posts Tagged: Essay Results 179
I was around 10 when I fell in love with cooking. I liked the way ingredients could be shaped and assembled by my small hands and transformed into something delicious — a quick and satisfying victory. But more than anything, I loved watching family members devour my food, what my then-pre-adolescent brain couldn’t have understood was part of female nurturing. A favorite pastime was to browse through glossy cookbooks. I would pore over the colorful illustrations of beautifully set tables laid with a platter of Beef Wellington or Baked Alaska. These were rich and complicated dishes beyond my expertise and my family’s dietary preferences. I would dream of the day I would cook these rich and complicated dishes for my own future family.
I had a beautiful Hungarian grandmother, born Erzsébet Weisz and redubbed Elizabeth Weiss when she and her parents and brother and sister moved to New York from Miskolcz in the 1920s. I called her Nana and she called me darling. (It sounded like dahhrrlink, as if spoken by a brainiac Zsa Zsa Gabor.) Nana said her Ws like Vs and her Vs like Ws, so as she told it, proudly, I vent to Wassar. She had gone to another of the seven sisters, Barnard, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1926, a brand new immigrant who had enrolled only two years earlier, no less. She went on to get a Master’s at Columbia; then taught at Hunter College and later — after being denied tenure for marrying my grandfather — at Horace Mann. She spoke five languages, had perfect skin, and made splendid baby lamb chops and a mean chicken-in-the-pot.
Like matzo balls, bagels used to be plain — or sesame if you were lucky. There were no pumpkin, jalapeño or asiago-cheese bagels on which to shmear your cream cheese.
“My father would always say that there are two kinds of people: those who eat to live and those who live to eat,” my grandpa, who I call Zayde, said to me over the phone.