When interviewed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about his recollections of Sephardic life before World War II, Dr. Isaac Nehama described in detail the special characteristics of some of the special foods his mother used to make in their Athens home. Speaking for posterity, his choices were wise and wonderful, reflecting dishes unique to his parents’ native Monastir (Bitola), others universally Sephardic, some with their roots planted firmly in Spain and even earlier in Jewish history.
Even though he watched his mother prepare the same recipes countless times, he never ceased to marvel at the intriguing flavors, shapes and textures she produced each day for her family. He reminds me of my grandfather, who adored his mother’s cooking and always spoke of it with the same sense of wonder as Dr. Nehama, as if the transformation from raw ingredients to final product was somehow miraculous rather than the work of a skilled and practiced cook. Continue reading