Cooking up lessons
Grandmothers invited to share Jewish traditions and recipes
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 10:08 p.m.
Some lessons are best learned from your grandmother. That's what University of Florida students who attended a new Hillel program series found out Sunday.
Ruth Etkin, grandmother of advertising senior Jessica Broad, was the first Bubbe - pronounced buh bee and Yiddish for grandmother - invited to Hillel's "Straight from Bubbe's Kitchen," a bimonthly program that calls on grandmothers of students to share traditional Jewish recipes, family history and Jewish culture.
Taal Hasak-Lowy, program director at Hillel, said she hopes the series will teach students to appreciate the traditions that come with Jewish cooking.
"Oral history is being passed down with every Jewish recipe," said Hasak-Lowy, 34. "The recipes aren't just the ingredients. They are the stories that make up what the dish means and symbolizes to a family."
Etkin, 71, demonstrated how to make dishes that were her mother's recipes, including a kugel, which is a fruit and noodle pudding, and a tzimmes, which is a side dish made with sweet potatoes, prunes, honey, carrots and spices.
Etkin said in her family, tzimmes was served on Rosh Hashanah, the holiday celebrating the Jewish new year.
"The honey in the recipe is for a sweet new year," said Etkin, a Boca Raton resident. "The carrots are cut into a coin shape, so that the new year will bring success and prosperity."
She told the students it is a Jewish obligation to pass traditions from generation to generation, and passing on recipes is one way to do that.
Etkin, who was in Gainesville for the weekend, said it was important for her to be at UF, so students can connect to their grandparents through her stories.
Stacey Hertz, 21, a UF senior, said hearing Etkin's stories and watching her cook reminded her how important it is to ask her own grandparents questions and to learn from them.
"A lot of the traditions and cooking will be lost with that generation," Hertz said.
Hertz and friend Lindsay Givner, 21 and also a senior, said they want to make these dishes for a Friday night Sabbath dinner and share the recipes with friends.
Broad said she learned a few things she didn't know about her grandmother, thanks to her visit to Hillel.
"Before today, I hadn't even heard some of the stories she told," said Broad, 21. "It took someone else to ask the questions, so I could learn more about my grandmother and our family history."
Etkin, who usually measures with handfuls and pinches, said the hardest part about teaching her recipes was figuring out the measurements. Much of Jewish cooking involves using what you have in your kitchen to complete recipes, she said.
"If peaches are in season," said Etkin, explaining how to choose ingredients for a kugel, "then you can use those instead of apples."
She ended by explaining why the recipes are so important to her.
"The recipes are my connection to my mother," she said to the students. "As you all get older, you will see how important that is."
For more information on "Straight from Bubbe's Kitchen," or if you know a grandmother who would be interested in teaching a class, contact Hasak-Lowy at (352) 372-2900, ext. 710.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article