Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.
“Aw c’mon dcms, there must be SOMETHING comforting from your childhood!”
“Well, I already told you about Passover and what a comforting tradition that was so I guess there’s only Shabbos, or Friday night dinner left.”
“Okay, tell me about it.”
“It was one of the most enduring traditions of my childhood. It happened every week! Ya couldn’t escape it! Friday was Shabbos! When I was very young up to about age 13 it meant going to Grandma’s across town to eat what she made. It was just us four, Grandma and Grandpa, and the dog. It was always good. We always had Candle Lighting, except in Summer when it was so late, then the family would gather and we would do the prayers over the Challah and Wine. My Grandpa and Dad would take a piece of Challah and say the Motzi and then put some salt on it and eat it. Then we started eating.
There was always a first course. Usually it was chopped liver or cold turnip salad with Challah. I didn’t like either much, but the liver was better for me because the turnip salad was bitter. Of course I loved the homemade Challah with white raisins.
Then we’d get to business and the main course. It usually was some kind of chicken but Grandma also baked beef sometimes and occasionally did a “milk” Shabbos with tuna casserole as the main dish. We’d also get cold salad and a hot vegetable and kugel. I liked every kind of kugel except potato. Sometimes it would be rice kugel or noodle kugel which were both sweetened with fruit and cinnamon. Potato was plain and there were no condiments to put on it. Sometimes we’d get pickled green tomatoes my Grandma put up from her tomatoes.
After that there was dessert, the best part. Most times she would bake some kind of cake: either banana or marble cake or even a pie. With a milk meal it would be coffee cake. Sometimes there would also be fruit salad or even in summer, Grandma’s version of ice cream made with Coffee Rich, usually strawberry flavored. For a beverage, it was usually Swee Touch Nee tea and sometimes coffee.
The best part however, was being together at the end of the work/school week and talking. If it was Summer, we’d retire to the patio to talk till it got dark. If it was Winter, I’d go with the ‘rents and my sister would stay over and go to shul with Grandma. I had allergies at her house and could not stay the night even though I tried a few times.
After the dog passed I would stay at her apartment she later got for the whole weekend for a few years. Then it would just be Grandma and I eating the Shabbos after my folks got into it with her one Friday. My sister came to these dinners also if she wasn’t out of town at college or at her job. At the end it was just Grandma and I. The food would not be finished so we would eat the rest for lunch the next day.
All those days are gone now. Everything is gone now. Only my sister and her family are left alive and she does not talk to me.
“Wow, dcms, Shabbos was a real stable part of your young life.”
“It sure was. I probably turned out better than I would have if not for those family traditions to keep me somewhat grounded.”