Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir

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9780140267594: Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir

Like many Jewish Americans, Elizabeth Ehrlich was ambivalent about her background. She identified with Jewish cultural attitudes, but not with the institutions; she had fond memories of her Jewish grandmothers, but she found their religious practices irrelevant to her life. It wasn?t until she entered the kitchen--and world--of her mother-in-law, Miriam, a Holocaust survivor, that Ehrlich began to understand the importance of preserving the traditions of the past. As Ehrlich looks on, Miriam methodically and lovingly prepares countless kosher meals while relating the often painful stories of her life in Poland and her immigration to America. These stories trigger a kind of religious awakening in Ehrlich, who--as she moves tentatively toward reclaiming the heritage she rejected as a young woman--gains a new appreciation of life?s possibilities, choices, and limitations.

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Food memoirs often delve into the meaning of life. This hardly surprises--memories are as essential to daily life as the food that sustains us. Miriam's Kitchen blends recipes and food reminiscences with family narratives and observations about the author's personal evolution as a Jew. Ehrlich weaves the stories from four generations of family life, punctuated with powerful and often tragic memories. While her mother-in-law, Miriam, is teaching her to make chicken livers with noodles, Ehrlich unexpectedly learns how Miriam, her mother, and husband survived a Nazi labor camp in Poland during the Holocaust. Using vivid and bare yet discreet words, she graphically tells what they suffered and the nightmares that still haunt them.

Ehrlich's own story covers her transformation from a child whose family lit Sabbath candles but went boating on Yom Kippur, to an adult who chooses an Orthodox life marked by ambivalence about the rigors of being kosher and pride in what she is passing on to her children. Recipes for Honey Cake, Noodle Pudding, and many others are buried treasures hidden among Ehrlich's intense words. Sadly omitted is a recipe for potato kugel. Her grandmother uses this tempting pudding to good-naturedly test, taunt, and ultimately as the means for accepting her daughter Selina's non-Jewish fiancé into the family. Happily for us, 24 other tempting kosher recipes make up for this one missed dish. Miriam's Kitchen is a gripping and gratifying memoir of food, life, tragedy, and family survival. --Dana Jacobi

About the Author:

Elizabeth Ehrlich lives in Westchester County, New York

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. As a girl, Elizabeth Ehrlich loved to visit her grandmother s kitchens. These were busy, onion-scented, Yiddish-accented places. Within their steamy plaster walls, the grandmothers -- remarkable women of insight, strength, and grace -- preserved and handed on history, tradition, community connection, humor, and wry lessons of life. As an adult, Ehrlich followed the path of her assimilating clan, forgetting the kitchen lessons. Her memory was awakened by her mother-in-law, Miriam. A Holocaust survivor who had suffered unspeakable losses, Miriam cooked the flavorsome dishes and carried on the customs of her childhood. Certain that her work mattered, she rebuilt a life of dignity and meaning. Under Miriam s spell, Ehrlich began to reclaim family memories and explore tradition in her own home. Reciting a prayer, grating a potato, lighting a candle, she found a way to build bridges from her grandparents to her children, and to give her children a timeless legacy. Miriam s Kitchen is Elizabeth Ehrlich s preservation of recipes, immigrant stories, childhood memories, droll musings over ritual, and sincere habits of the heart. It is a wise exploration of the need to connect with the past and with tradition, and of our hunger for meaning in a chaotic world. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780140267594

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. As a girl, Elizabeth Ehrlich loved to visit her grandmother s kitchens. These were busy, onion-scented, Yiddish-accented places. Within their steamy plaster walls, the grandmothers -- remarkable women of insight, strength, and grace -- preserved and handed on history, tradition, community connection, humor, and wry lessons of life. As an adult, Ehrlich followed the path of her assimilating clan, forgetting the kitchen lessons. Her memory was awakened by her mother-in-law, Miriam. A Holocaust survivor who had suffered unspeakable losses, Miriam cooked the flavorsome dishes and carried on the customs of her childhood. Certain that her work mattered, she rebuilt a life of dignity and meaning. Under Miriam s spell, Ehrlich began to reclaim family memories and explore tradition in her own home. Reciting a prayer, grating a potato, lighting a candle, she found a way to build bridges from her grandparents to her children, and to give her children a timeless legacy. Miriam s Kitchen is Elizabeth Ehrlich s preservation of recipes, immigrant stories, childhood memories, droll musings over ritual, and sincere habits of the heart. It is a wise exploration of the need to connect with the past and with tradition, and of our hunger for meaning in a chaotic world. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780140267594

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