When I think of Passover I think of the valiant and resilient survivors I interviewed for my first book, Recipes Remembered. I think of Joan Ferencz who spent the final months of the war in Auschwitz. I listened in awe as she told me how she grasped her sister's hand and pulled her to the line that survived. She recalled Passover in her home before those dark days where she would run up to the attic to collect the Pesach plates. It was a memory that brought joy to her gentle face.
I hear Ida Frankfurter as she told me a story of her liberation from the Peterswaldau camp in Ober Silesia. It was a camp where she worked in the munitions factory having been transferred from Auschwitz and from which she took a souvenir of an empty grenade shell. That shell now stands as a centerpiece on her Passover table to remind her that she too was once a slave.
When I think of Passover I remember the day I sat in the Upper West Side office of restaurateur George Lang. He escaped Hungary in the back of a hearse and became a premier figure in the culinary world. His accomplishments were legendary as is the recipe he gave me for a Passover dish that was dear to his heart.
I recall Freda Lederer's shy and reserved voice telling me how she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen from where she was liberated by the British in April of 1945. She is so proud that she still prepares both Passover Seders at her home in Harrisburg, PA where her entire extended family enjoys her Hungarian cooking.
So, for my monthly column that usually touts the merits of too much meat, I am going in a different direction. No fears, I am not suggesting a vegetarian menu. However, I am going to share with you recipes from "my" Hungarian survivors who shared their stories of hope and faith and their cherished recipes with me. Recipes where Passover was a cornerstone and the concept of freedom and exile had heightened meaning and tremendous importance.
If you have a copy of Recipes Remembered, I urge you to read these stories at your Passover table and make them part of your holiday tradition. If you do not, then I hope you will visit Amazon.com or the Museum of Jewish Heritage and claim a copy for yourself. The recipes will inspire you to cook and the stories will inspire you to live your life to the fullest. The proceeds from all sales go to benefit The Museum of Jewish Heritage, so this Passover when you buy a book, you will be performing a miracle. It might not be as flashy as a burning bush or as monumental as parting the Red Sea, But you will be living my mantra to Eat Well-Do Good.
Have a Zeesa Pesach.
Ask The Kosher Carnivore monthly column and $50 Gift Certificate Giveaway are sponsored by Jack's Gourmet Kosher – Authentic Handcrafted Deli Meats and Sausages.
Congratualtions to Debbie Frankel – February winner of a $50 Gift Certificate for Jack's Gourmet Kosher products.