This past summer, I had the distinct pleasure of employing, Lily Soroka, a talented young writer and aspiring cook, as Dinner: A Love Story’s first ever intern. In addition to assisting on photo shoots and helping with cookbook research, you’ll be happy to know, she organized my Recipe Index, making it much easier to find exactly the meal you’re looking for in a pinch. Take a look, it’s truly a thing of beauty. I also asked Lily to write about a special food memory below and lucky for us, she chose matzo ball soup. (She had me at Bubby.) Take it away, Lily!
When I think back to when I first started cooking, the earliest memories I have in the kitchen are with my grandma, Bubby Rose. Every time we went to Montreal to visit, I could always count on there being something delicious waiting for me in the kitchen. As soon as Bubby would open the door for us on an icy Montreal winter night (a type of winter all its own), the warm smell of food would always greet me from the kitchen as we all slowly defrosted, taking off our coats and hats; the six hour drive was definitely worth it.
Though small, Bubby always had such a presence in her sixties-style kitchen, the same one my dad grew up eating in. It has old wooden cabinets and a baby blue oven. Living on one of the kitchen shelves is Bubby’s sixties-era Jewish cookbook. It houses dogeared, tattered pages of the recipes of some of my favorite meals, and whenever I open it, handwritten notes and edits fall out from in between the pages.
Even when I was too young to truly know what I was doing in the kitchen, I was right there with Bubby, making everything from chocolate cake, to meatballs, to Matzo Brei on Passover. No matter what she made, she knew what she wanted and how she wanted it done. Even so, she always met my questions with patience and a smile. But my clearest memories with her are when we would make matzo ball soup together. She made the matzo meal mixture, and I would stand there next to her, rolling each matzo ball and dipping my hands in warm water to prevent them from sticking.
Naturally, the portion we made would be too huge for my family of three to finish off in the few days we were visiting; we always left with at least two containers of the soup, frozen, for whenever we had a craving for it back at home. And, though we live 300 miles away, everytime we defrost the soup and have a bowl-full, it tastes like we never left.
Thank you, Lily! For everything!