04 January 2008

Survivor recipes: More than a cookbook

The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, compiled by Joanne Caras of Port St. Lucie, Florida, provides a peek at Eastern European cuisine, according to this story in the Palm Beach Post.

It is a cuisine that features heavy cooking, including stews, hearty soups, cabbage, lots of protein as well as desserts.

What makes this cookbook special is that the recipes are printed as the cooks presented them, lacking modern-day attention to cooking methods or ingredient measurement.

Caras decided on this project a few years ago after visiting her son in Israel. He works at a soup kitchen, and to raise money for it and honor those who perished, she started the cookbook, to gather the older generation's traditional recipes.

"These recipes will be lost when this group dies out, and it's already happening. We need to preserve them," she said.

What makes it more than a cookbook are the stories and photos (past and present) with the recipes, submitted by survivors around the world. Their letters are preserved, generally unedited by Caras, "We have to remind the next generation of both their heritage in food, and their place in history."

She contacted survivors, emailed Holocaust museums and survivor organizations. Caras wanted 129 stories to represent every major country, and eventually she found them.

One survivor is Sara Stolniki (Seena Schwarz) of Windsor, CT, who writes about her experience with older sister Gutki Miliband Stoniki (Delray Beach, FL.) Born in Antwerp, Belgium, she was 8 when the Nazis invaded.

"The people who hid us were part of a whole network," Sara said. "The people kept records - they knew when the day came that the war was over and the parents would come looking for them, they needed to be able to find them," she said.

The lists were split into two books - each went with a different person so no one could collect all the names, Sara said.

In 1991, the so-called "Hidden Children" were reunited in New York City, many bringing the families who risked all to hide them.

"It was a fantastic reunion," Sara said. They were shown the notebooks that held their names and histories. The families who hid them were honored for their bravery.

Caras stresses how painful it was to tell the story, still receives letters and talks to people when on tour with the book. Stories received after the book was finished are on Caras' web site.

The self-published book raises money from each sale for the soup kitchen. More than $18,000 has been collected; her goal is to raise $1 million.

But it's more than a cookbook, says Caras. "It's not just a book of recipes - it's a book of 129 miracles."

The article highlights three recipes from the book: Bubbe Ginendel's gefilte fish (Sara Stolniki, Windsor, CT), Lady's Whim Noi Szeszely (Eva Weigl Shankman, Olney, MD), Bigos (Zosia Emelia, Cleveland, Ohio.)

To order ($36), click here.

Read more here.

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