- Full Title: Nettie’s Vegetarian Kitchen
- Autor: Nettie Cronish
- Print Length: 232 pages
- Publisher: Second Story Press; 1st edition
- Publication Date: September 19, 1996
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0929005805
- ISBN-13: 978-0929005805
- Download File Format | Size: azw3 | 773,15 Kb
CH THINGS TO SAY
THE ORAL HISTORY OF BOB MARLEY
TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY
INTRODUCTION BY LINTON KWESI JOHNSON
W. W. NORTON & COMPANY
Independent Publishers Since 1923
New York • London
To the ineffable CC Smith, cofounder of The Beat magazine, devoted friend and partner, without whose efforts on my behalf this book would never have existed.
And to my beloved wife, Mary, and our children Kate, and Devon, whose constant support and tolerant overstanding are a gift from Jah.
There are no facts in Jamaica, only versions.
—Old folk saying
INTRODUCTION: THE PEOPLE SPEAK BY LINTON KWESI JOHNSON
CHAPTER 1.Where Is My Mother?
CHAPTER 2.Trench Town Rocks
CHAPTER 3.The Wailers at Studio One
CHAPTER 4.Good Good Rudies
CHAPTER 5.Love and Affection
CHAPTER 6.Rasta Shook Them Up
CHAPTER 7.Wailers A Go Wail
CHAPTER 8.Nine Mile Exile
CHAPTER 9.The JAD Years
CHAPTER 10.Leslie Kong Meets the Tuff Gang
CHAPTER 11.Lee Perry and Jamaican Politricks
CHAPTER 12.Cold Cold Winters in Sweden and London
CHAPTER 13.Island’s Kinky Reggae
CHAPTER 14.Burnin’ Out in London
CHAPTER 15.The End of the Beginning
CHAPTER 16.Natty Dread
CHAPTER 17.Hope Road Runnings
CHAPTER 18.Cindy Breakspeare and the 1975 Tour
CHAPTER 19.Rastaman Vibration and the Fatal Reissue
CHAPTER 20.Ambush in the Night
CHAPTER 21.The CIA and the Assassination Attempt
CHAPTER 22.Smile, You’re in Jamaica
CHAPTER 23.Who Shot Bob Marley?
CHAPTER 24.Exodus to London
CHAPTER 25.Blackwell, Bob and Business
CHAPTER 26.The Bloody Toe in the Paris Match
CHAPTER 27.The One Love Peace Concert
CHAPTER 28.Babylon by Bus from the U.N. to Ethiopia
CHAPTER 29.Charity and Survival
CHAPTER 30.From the Apollo to Gabon
CHAPTER 31.Natty Mash It inna Zimbabwe
CHAPTER 33.Madison Square Garden Then Everything Crash
CHAPTER 34.Dr. Issels and the Final Days
CHAPTER 35.Marley’s Legacy and the Wailers’ Favorite Songs
LIST OF INTERVIEWEES
The People Speak
Linton Kwesi Johnson
In an essay I wrote on the lyrics of Bob Marley’s Exodus, voted album of the twentieth century by Time magazine, I said of his lyrical genius that it was based on his “ability to translate the personal into the political, the private into the public, the particular into the universal.”* Genius, it can be argued, is not merely an exceptional personal attribute; it is historical in the sense that it becomes manifest when there is a conjunction of the biographical and the historical. The second half of the 1970s, the period when Bob Marley began to reap the rewards of his long apprenticeship as a musician, was a time of turbulence not only in Jamaica but around the globe. The Cold War was at its most intense; proxy wars were being waged between East and West in developing-world countries; anticolonial wars were still being fought in Africa; there were anti-imperialist struggles taking place in South America. Jamaica was on the brink of all-out civil war as the opposition, aided and abetted by the CIA, sought to wrest power from Michael Manley’s democratic socialist government. Bob Marley almost lost his life during that conflict. His music is resonant of that period; it reflects the zeitgeist. At the apotheosis of his career he had become a kind of Che Guevara of popular culture.
I have the dubious distinction of having written a critique of Marley’s rise to fame at a pivotal time in his career. As a fan of the Wailers triumvirate of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, I was deeply disappointed when they went their separate ways. Then, on top of that, Marley was being hailed in the rock music press as the new “king of rock” following the release of his first solo album, Natty Dread. As far as I was concerned that was a travesty—and I was not alone in harboring such sentiments. Bob Marley was, after all, a top-ranking Jamaican reggae artist who belonged to the world of black music and was being appropriated by the white rock world. In the article I wrote, titled “Roots and Rock: The Marley Enigma,” published in Race Today in October 1975, I not only criticized the way Marley was being marketed, I laid the blame at the doorstep of Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records.† Back then I was a twenty-three-year-old sociology undergraduate and I had just published my second book of poems, Dread Beat an Blood. Three years later I was signed to Island Records by Blackwell and, a year after that, by Marley to Tuff Gong. With the benefit of hindsight I can say that my analysis of the marketing strategy was more or less correct, even though the sentiments were misplaced.
Linton Kwesi Johnson at Herne Hill, London, May 27, 2003.
When it became clear that Bob Marley would not
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FIVE-SPICE HOLIDAY NUTS
anyone-can-make great crusty baguettes
WHITE BEAN SOUP SHOOTERS WITH A BIT OF BACON
bourbon squash soup with parmesan frico
DEVILISH EGGS WITH CHEDDAR, CHIPOTLE, AND CHIVES
not exactly chinese pork buns
THAI-GRILLED BEEF SKEWERS WITH PICKLED CUCUMBERS
tiny twice-baked potatoes with smoked paprika and bacon
Bruschetta with Strawberry and Tomato Salad
Bruschetta WITH STRAWBERRY AND TOMATO SALAD
MAKES 10 TO 15 HORS D’OEUVRES
YEP—STRAWBERRIES AND TOMATOES. I love serving this to people who don’t know what’s coming. They scratch their heads, expecting bruschetta to be topped with tomatoes, but what’s that other familiar flavor? They always love it. Consider: tomatoes and strawberries are both sweet, tangy, and juicy. They’re both fruits. They’re even both red. The more I think about it, the more I want to try this on top of pasta.… For now, though, the combo makes a perfect summer appetizer.
1 cup diced fresh ripe strawberries
1 cup diced grape tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal ½ inch thick
1 In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Let rest for 30 minutes, stirring now and then.
2 Heat an outdoor or indoor grill or grill pan to medium-high. Spread out the sliced bread on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Transfer to the grill, and toast the bread until golden all over, 2 or 3 minutes per side. Arrange on a platter.
3 Cover the warm grilled bread slices with a generous layer of strawberry-tomato salad. Serve immediately.
Lots of people, even fancy food-industry people, aren’t sure how to pronounce the word bruschetta: it’s brew-SKET-tuh.
Bruschetta WITH HOMEMADE RICOTTA, PROSCIUTTO, AND ARUGULA
MAKES 10 TO 15 HORS D’OEUVRES
EVERY SATURDAY DURING spring, summer, and fall, Barry and I walk over for lunch at the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene—part antiques market, part junk sale, part craft fair, part artisanal food court. It’s also great people-watching; aside from a reliably cute crew of scruffy Brooklynites and international tourists, celebs ranging from Martha Stewart to Michael Stipe are regularly spotted poking through the treasures. But the real action for us is in the well-curated street food: fabulous Salvadoran pupusas (thick corn tortillas stuffed with pork, beans, and cheese), brick-oven pizza, sandwiches of brisket and porchetta, and my favorite, approximated here, from Brooklyn’s own Salvatore Ricotta. This is a quick and perfect treat, an ideal use for homemade ricotta.
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal ½ inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
1 cup fresh ricotta, homemade or store-bought
15 arugula leaves
¼ pound very thinly sliced prosciutto or other salty, cured pork meat, such as coppa, lomo, or speck
Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 Heat an outdoor or indoor grill or grill pan to medium-high. Spread out the sliced bread on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Grill the bread until golden all over, 2 or 3 minutes per side. Rub one side of each piece of bread with the garlic. Arrange the bread on a platter.
2 Spread a tablespoon or two of ricotta on each piece of bread, and then press an arugula leaf into the cheese. Place a slice of prosciutto on top, drizzle with your best olive oil, and serve.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
MAKES 1½ CUPS
THERE ARE CERTAIN fresh cheeses that really taste better when you get them the day they are made, and when they’ve never felt the taste-killing chill of refrigeration—queso fresco, burrata, and fresh mozzarella come to mind. Another is ricotta, which also happens to be as easy to make as a bowl of oatmeal (well, almost), and requires no equipment more special than a thermometer and some cheesecloth. For a lasagna, where the ricotta is competing for attention with many other powerful flavors, I wouldn’t bother. But for recipes that really showcase this sweet, spreadable delight—like the bruschetta on the opposite page—here’s a guide to the best ricotta you will ever taste: your own.
½ gallon whole milk
2 cups buttermilk
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, and secure it with 3 or 4 clothespins. Set the colander inside a bowl.
2 In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, with a thermometer handy, combine the whole milk and buttermilk and heat, stirring nearly constantly, until the temperature reaches 180°F. When you reach 170 to 175°F, you’ll start to see fine, little curds separating from the whey. At 180°F, turn off the heat, a
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and Deep Chocolate Shortbread, but a couple, such as Chocolate Crêpes Filled with Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Babka, you’ll probably want to save for a rainy afternoon. While these two may be time-consuming, they still conform to my unwritten rule that a recipe should never be technically difficult or require hard-to-find ingredients. All the recipes I’ve included here I make myself—at home, that is.
Because I know how precious time can be these days (with three kids under age ten, boy, do I know!) with carpools to be driven and late nights at work, I’ve included do-ahead tips at the end of each recipe. You’ll also find notes on any special equipment you’ll need, such as cake pans (and what size) or a candy thermometer or parchment paper, so you can get everything organized in advance.
Enough already. Go and take that bar of chocolate out of the pantry and make a batch of brownies. Create some memories.
A Brief History of the Cacao Bean
When the icy winter winds are howling off Lake Michigan in Chicago, nothing lifts my spirits and warms my soul like a cup of rich, dark, and foamy Mexican hot chocolate, lightly sweetened and spiced with hints of cinnamon. With each sip I think about the origins of this drink that was so beloved by the ancient Maya and Aztecs. Even to this day, it’s not uncommon to find people in parts of central and southern Mexico still routinely drinking hot chocolate, just as their ancestors did before them, although the Mexican hot chocolate drunk today bears little resemblance to the bitter beverage flavored with chilies and spices made by the Maya and Aztecs.
Although archaeologists think it was the Olmecs (1500 to 400 BC) who were the first people to eat the fruit of the cacao (ka-kow) tree, the Maya (AD 250 to 900) were the first to figure out how to harvest, ferment, roast, and grind the cacao beans into a paste that could be thinned out with water and cornmeal to make a drink. Carl Linnaeus, the eighteenth-century botanist (and an admitted chocoholic), heard of the Mayan belief that the cacao tree was a gift to them from the gods and gave it its Greek botanical name, Theobroma, or “food of the gods.”
Use of the cacao bean spread from the Maya to the Aztecs, who worshipped the cacao bean for the power they believed it possessed to give a man superhuman strength and endurance, both on the battlefield and—ahem!—in the bedroom. They served it at banquets and religious rites and used it as a drug, a food, and even as currency—one bean for a tomato, ten beans for a rabbit, one hundred for a slave—because it was more valuable to them than gold. (Gold was everywhere, cacao trees weren’t; and the Aztecs depended on tribes they conquered to grow the trees for them.) To make the bitter drink a little tastier they blended the cacao paste with flavorings such as chilies, allspice, and vanilla, and then would toss the liquid back and forth between two vessels until it frothed, believing that the spirit of the drink was found in the foam.
Spaniard Hernando Cortés, who conquered the Aztecs in 1519, was the first European to “discover” chocolate as a beverage, because Columbus had missed the boat, literally. In 1502, on Columbus’s third voyage to the New World, he found a stash of cacao beans in a Mayan canoe, but he thought the beans were just some strange form of Aztec money and didn’t realize their value as something edible.
When Cortés arrived in Mexico, Emperor Montezuma II mistook him for an exiled god-king and welcomed the Spaniard with a big banquet. After dinner Montezuma served the honored guest his favorite beverage—hot chocolate, of course—then proceeded to throw in a few cacao plantations as a gift. Cortés, who was aware of the value the Aztecs placed on cacao beans, slyly started cashing the beans from his trees in for gold. By the time Montezuma was wise to the fact that the avaricious conquistador wasn’t a god and was really only after his gold, it was too late. Cortés had the emperor thrown in jail, where Montezuma died, cacao-less and humiliated, in 1520.
Cortés took cacao beans back to Spain, but the bitter chocolate drink he made with the beans was not too well received—that is, until someone (probably Cortés) sweetened the drink with sugar to make it more palatable. Soon hot chocolate was all the rage among sixteenth-century Spanish nobility, and aristocratic ladies could be seen daintily sipping the beverage morning, noon, and night.
By the eighteenth century the exotic New World ingredient could be seen all over Europe and in the American colonies, but because the beans were still being laboriously ground by hand, the price of chocolate was still out of reach for most people. Then something happened that altered the course of chocolate history forever: In 1728 Walter Churchman built the first water-powered chocolate mill in Bristol, England, and gradually—although it was still considered a luxury
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food had never until now received praise from foreigners. In the nineteenth century, although the French were fascinated with their neighbor, and accounts of their travels in Spain were immensely popular, they described the food with disdain. Writers such as Théophile Gautier, in Un Voyage en Espagne; Alexandre Dumas, in Adventures in Spain and From Paris to Cádiz; and Prosper Mérimée, in the novella on which the opera Carmen was based, complained that the food was poor and that too much oil and too much pork fat, too much garlic, and too much pimentón (paprika) made it unpalatable. Dumas sometimes insisted on cooking his own food in the hostels where he stayed. British writer Richard Ford’s Handbook for Travellers in Spain, originally published in 1845, had nothing good to say about the food, nor did the hispanophile Gerald Brenan. At a recent dinner in Córdoba, I was asked politely if the food in England was all that good in Richard Ford’s time. His comments obviously still hurt. In the mid-twentieth century, a bastardized tourist cuisine of the fixed-price menu and fake paellas arose during the massive expansion of cheap sand-sea-and-sun tourism. It is still there in parts, and tourists still complain, but Spain has transformed itself into the world’s effervescent center of gastronomic creativity.
San Sebastián, in the Basque Country, has become the culinary capital of Europe, with the greatest concentration of Michelin three-star restaurants in Spain. Ferran Adrià at El Bulli in Roses, Catalonia, who is famous for using science and technology in his cuisine, is feted abroad as the greatest living chef. Food and travel writers rave about the extraordinary and fantastic nueva cocina, the new Spanish cuisine, and its star chefs are rightly acclaimed throughout the world. These avant-garde chefs use machines, cook sous-vide and with syringes, freeze-dry and caramelize, and create hot jellies, instant mousses, bubbling froths and foams, vapors, and explosions. They deconstruct traditional dishes and use exotic foreign ingredients. Their food is what they call an artist’s cocina de autor—signed by the chef—and it is constantly changing.
There have been several phases in the gastronomic revolution over three decades. Among the other top influential chefs are Juan Mari Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Martin Berasategui, Sergi Arola, Dani García, Carme Ruscalleda, and Victor Arguinzoniz. Some things have been crazy, but the kitchen revolution has led to the development of an exquisite and refined professional alta cocina (haute cuisine) that Spain had never had before, and to an updating of the traditional culinary know-how that had been passed down the generations for centuries. The new ways of doing things—to grill, fry, and roast better, to boil and stew better, to present food better, and to make it more delicious and appealing—have reached home cooks. And there has been a new appreciation of traditional Spanish food as well—which is what this book is about.
Many of these innovative chefs now say that they have been inspired by their roots. They talk about their parents’ and grandparents’ cooking and about rescuing rural traditions and local ingredients that are in danger of disappearing. The revered Catalan chef Santi Santamaria, whose restaurant El Raco de Can Fabes is in San Celoni near Barcelona, says that cooking has to be sentiment as well as technique and that without “ideology,” it is simply a matter of manual skills and technology. His ideology, he says, is rooted in the life of his peasant family and the progressive politics of his youth. He quoted the painter Joan Miró: “To be universal, you have to be local.” The young Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, of the restaurant Mugaritz in San Sebastián, spoke with touching intensity when he said that, apart from giving pleasure, his aim was to give “memories and emotions—even bad ones.” This is the refrain today of most of the innovative chefs.
Despite the glamour of the innovators (in a cooking school I visited, all the students wanted to be like Ferran Adrià), a huge fraternity of chefs has stuck to traditional ways. In old-style mesones, informal restaurants or inns, and in grand establishments, they offer the food Spaniards have always known and loved. Because children now eat at school and men do not come home for lunch, because women work too and are busy (they cook on weekends or “just make pasta” and cook a la plancha [see page 121] or have Latin American or North African maids who also cook for them), restaurants and bars have become places where people go to find the traditional and regional home cooking they hanker after.
Throughout the country, there is a palpable feeling of nostalgia for the old rural life that was too quickly swept away by the booming tourist economy. It has translated into a newfound passion for regional cooking and products. During the Franco regime, regional
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2 sprigs of mint, the vanilla seeds and pod, and the rosemary.
Pour the boiling water over the mixture. Stir carefully and let sit for 20 minutes. Stir well again and strain out the solids, then discard them and pour the lemonade into Mason jars or a large pitcher and keep refrigerated until people get thirsty.
To serve, pour the lemonade over ice in tall glasses, garnish each with a mint leaf, and sit on a porch.
Watermelons abound in Georgia. The only problem is fitting them in the fridge. This recipe can plow through half a watermelon pretty quickly, allowing the other half a little wiggle room in the fridge.
I do have a fancy blender at work, but at home I have an Osterizer workhorse that is about twenty years old and works great.
½ cup fine turbinado sugar
4 cups cubed watermelon flesh
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (see Note)
1 cup soda water
6 slices of lime, for garnish
Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Place the watermelon in a blender, making sure to tightly ram the cubes down so the blender can do its magic. Puree the watermelon into watermelon water. Pour it into a pitcher and add the lime juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the simple syrup and reserve the rest for another use.
To serve, fill 6 pint glasses with ice and pour the watermelon limeade into each, up to an inch from the top. Top each glass with soda water and garnish with a slice of lime.
A-Team Waiter Sweet Tea
Tea in the South doesn’t arrive at the table hot. It isn’t something to mix with milk and honey. Please don’t flavor it with raspberry, or load it with açaí or other superfoods. Tea is sweet iced tea. Tea should not be so sweet as to strip tooth enamel. Tea is not made with green tea or anything fancy. It is simple caffeinated black tea with sugar and ice.
The A-Team are my loyal, dedicated, skilled, and selfless waitstaff who have been with me for years. They are our front line of smiles and smarts. When they finally leave Five and Ten, Paul, Steve, Bob, Toni, and Joe will carry with them the ability to make great iced tea.
This recipe can be doubled or tripled very easily. You will need two nice clean quart jars.
1 tablespoon loose black tea
¾ cup granulated sugar
8 leaves of fresh mint
4 slices of lemon
Pour 4 cups cold water into a kettle and bring to a boil. Add the black tea to one clean quart container and add the sugar to the other.
When the water is boiling, pour 2 cups of it over the tea and 2 cups of it over the sugar. Gently stir the sugar and water to combine and then cover both quart containers. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes (a rather long time in the tea world, but it will be diluted with an equal amount of sugar water).
Strain the steeped tea into the sugar water and let cool.
Fill 4 tall glasses with ice and pour the tea into each glass. Garnish with 2 mint leaves and a slice of lemon.
Maker’s Mark & Spicy Ginger Soda
This is a play on the classic spicy ginger ale and bourbon mix but with homemade ginger syrup. The simple way of making a syrup can be stretched into other cocktail and dessert applications as well. Maker’s is a solid bourbon, but Evan Williams, Bulleit, or Old Rip Van Winkle are other options. If you want a bourbon just for sipping, try Elijah Craig on the low end and a fifteen-year-old Pappy Van Winkle on the high end.
½ pound fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 cup fine turbinado sugar
6 ounces Maker’s Mark (or other bourbon of your choice)
4 slices of fresh ripe peach
4 ounces soda water
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water, the ginger, and the sugar to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to steep and cool for 1 hour. Strain off the ginger pieces and reserve the syrup.
Fill two 10-ounce highball glasses with ice to the top. In each glass, pour 3 ounces bourbon and 1 tablespoon ginger syrup, and stir. Add 2 slices of the peach and 2 ounces soda water to each glass. Stir gently and serve. The remaining ginger syrup will last for 2 weeks in the fridge.
Eggnog with Bourbon
Eggnog, the custard drink of the holidays, is easy to make. Traditionally made with rum and brandy, this distinctively Southern recipe is served with bourbon instead.
MAKES 3 QUARTS; OR SERVES 10 TO 12
4 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
Pinch of salt
8 eggs, separated
1½ cups Maker’s Mark bourbon
½ cup light rum
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
In a large saucepan, combine the milk, ¾ cup of the sugar, van
t bankrupt, Nissim took no chances on losing his fortune and moved the family back to Palestine.
Nissim was an extremely devout follower of the Jewish faith, and he pledged to marry his three daughters only to rabbis. “He used to fast for three straight days and nights, and before he broke his fast, he used to roll in the snow when it fell, and then celebrate the Shabbat [Sabbath],” Esther told the family. One of her sisters was married to a rabbi from the city of Aleppo in northern Syria, which had a reputation for educating some of the most learned rabbinical scholars in the Middle East. Rabbi Matloub Abadi, a friend of this rabbi, was introduced to Nissim, who was so favorably impressed with the young man that he was determined to have Esther marry him. Evidently Esther, who was fifteen at the time, also had positive thoughts of this young rabbi. “Matloub was intelligent, handsome, very learned in Torah, generally well informed, and unmarried,” she said. Esther overcame her shyness (at first she kept running to the other side of the room whenever he approached her), and they married shortly thereafter, settling in Palestine.
Left to right: Great-Aunt Simcha with her sister, Great-Grandma Esther, Palestine, 1917.
“When the war broke out in 1914,” my great-grandmother told the family, “they wanted to take Matloub, my husband, into the army. But my husband was a scholar and a rabbi, not a fighter. Because he was Aleppoan and did not look like the Jewish rabbis in Jerusalem (he had no beard and no turban), they did not believe he was a rabbi. So I said to him, ‘If you are recognized as a rabbi in Aleppo, go there.’ He went and I joined him later and we lived through the war. He earned a poor living teaching in a religious school and being a merchant part of the time. When it became time to think of returning to Jerusalem, we learned that business conditions were very weak and my husband’s chance of supporting us (we had three children at the time) was very poor. He began to get reports that the place to go to raise a family in a good lifestyle was America. He was very determined and said he would go ‘with or without me.’ So I moved our children Frieda [Grandma Fritzie], Abe, and Adele back to Palestine to be with my family, and my husband went to America, and after two and a half years, he sent for us. Our two other children, Evelyn and Seymour, were born in America.”
Grandma Fritzie had one vivid memory of life in Aleppo, where she was born on the Jewish holiday of Purim in 1915 or 1916. At that time, most families of modest means lived in a communal living space opening onto an interior courtyard called a hoh’sh. The hoh’sh was surrounded by private rooms inhabited by mainly Jewish and Moslem families. One kitchen was shared by all. The long hours spent in this communal kitchen created a daily social life among the women. There they were able to express the stresses and joys of their daily lives and also share recipes and cooking tips. “I would stand at the doorway of the kitchen and watch the mothers cooking and chatting,” Grandma Fritzie told me. “The sights and aromas of that place have never left me.”
While my grandmother’s father, Matloub, had hoped to establish himself solely as a businessman in America, the Syrian community already living in New York had other ideas. An enthusiastic band of religious Syrian men had met my great-grandfather as he disembarked at Ellis Island, and they immediately installed him as the official rabbi of the tiny Magen David Synagogue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Seventy-five years later, this synagogue still exists and has the Old World feel of a Sephardic synagogue. It is still the first choice of the old guard for important religious ceremonies and funerals.
The family settled within walking distance of the synagogue among a growing number of Syrian families. The children attended public schools and Fritzie, whose first languages were Arabic and Hebrew, remembered with great fondness the teacher who taught her how to speak proper English. “She taught me to stand in front of the mirror, observing the shape of my mouth and placement of my tongue while pronouncing words. From then on, I was able to speak English without an accent.” Although she was offered a scholarship to a special art school, Fritzie was forced to put aside her formal education and went to work full-time at the age of fourteen. The family needed the income, and Middle Eastern girls, bright and capable as they might be, were not encouraged to pursue their talents. Fritzie maintained a love of learning all her life and was always an avid reader of classics, history, novels, everything. She was also exceptionally beautiful, like a movie star. Many young men were infatuated with her, but because she was the daughter of the great chacham (“wise man”) Matloub Abadi, they were afraid to go near her, and she was never allowed to dance with young men at social functions. “I remem