German Baker's Recipe Cards

Some recipes have to be doubled to feed a family, Grandpa Max’s have to be cut into a tiny fraction. Such is the case when your German-born great grandfather ran a bakery with typewriter-recorded recipes. Intended to be made in bulk, these recipes call for butter, sugar and flour to be measured out in pounds! One recipe calls for a full dozen eggs.  Max Gideon, my grandmother’s father, grew up in a small village in the Black Forest of Germany. There, his family (my family too!) owned a hotel and restaurant. After my great-grandfather started a fist fight with the mayor’s son, he was shipped off to America. He arrived in New York in 1920 and lived with a cousin up in Washington Heights. The post-arrival era of family history is blurry but we assume he apprenticed for a baker because next thing we know, he opened a bakery in Washington Heights called Gideon’s!  He ran Gideon’s for decades before retiring to Florida. My grandmother’s childhood revolved around the bakery’s role in the Washington Heights community. We don’t have anything left from the storefront except the recipe box. It is not clear when Max converted the recipes from the German he spoke to the American English on the notecards. Was it a symbol of assimilation to be able to write out “9 lbs butter”?  All these years later, my grandmother doesn’t always get her own dessert at dinner, but she cannot resist reaching over to my dessert, stealing a forkful, and biting into her childhood and her father’s German-born trade. 

Place(s): Washington Heights, New York
Year: 1920

– Ethan Fuirst

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more