Grandma's Cookbook

Cookbook cover. Faded, tattered edges.
Cookbook cover. Faded, tattered edges.

Three generations of American Jewish women have used this book. Second Helpings, Please! is a cookbook, which used to be bright orange. The plastic binding broke before I was born and now the book is kept in a gallon-sized freezer bag. In 1968, Montreal's Mount Sinai Temple collected, tested, and wrote this book. At the time, a new surge of Jewish immigrants seeking refuge came. My grandparents, first-generation Americans worked to make this side of the Atlantic their lineage’s home. In order to do so, they sacrificed. What is different from most other sub-cultures is that Jews are White. We went from other to otherer. The cookbook represents that path of assimilation. My grandmother moved away from the life of her mothers and adopted a traditional, more American manner of being. I do not mean to devalue domesticity, just highlight a difference. Few of the first Jewish women here worked at home. They were garment workers peddling sewing machines; they did not cook. However, my grandmother got to choose to cook. The same story is in the pages of Second Helpings. There are recipes for old Jewish cuisine, “recipes great-grandmothers kept in their heads” my Aunt Wendy told me. However, most of the book strays far from the old country (Macaroni-Tuna Casserole, blueberry jello molds). As if to say, Jewish American cook this and you will fit in. Today, I keep the book as a guide to the Jewish holidays, as a way to dignify my ancestors, the ones who did not have time to cook. 

Place(s): Montreal
Year: 1910

– HG

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