An article entitled Dreams of Cooking Behind Barbed
Wire passed through my newsfeed earlier this week. The
subject of the article broke my heart while reminding me that hope,
food and love of family - even when manufactured through memories -
is incredibly powerful.
The photo to the left taken by the Sydney
Jewish Museum is of a 56-page cookbook laced together with
barbed wire and memories and was compiled by the women of
Ravensbruck. The contributors of this formidable piece of history
were the starving inmates of Germany's largest female concentration
camp during World War II. Sharing their stories and writing down
their recipes helped the women hold on to themselves, deal with
their hunger and gave them strength. These memories of the life
that was left behind sustained their spirits.
The cookbook is housed at the Sydney Jewish Museum and is one of
six known fantasy cookbooks written by Holocaust
prisoners. Edith Peer, the creator of this particular book, was
forced to work in an office which enabled her to steal pencil and
paper. Stealing these materials, writing down these recipes and
keeping the book hidden was very risky. The Sydney Museum's head
curator, Roslyn Sugarman, states it beautifully, "This tiny book is
an act of resistance to maintain a sense of hope and humanity."
This piece sent me on a journey of learning as much as I could
about these strong women who "cooked with words" and strengthened
their resolve to keep home and family in their hearts. My search
lead me to "Yehudit's Recipe Book" a young Hungarian
woman who with her friends kept the faith by sharing fantasy meals
and writing down recipes. There are more stories out there - more
voices that must be heard.
Today, I'm sharing a few titles below that may be of interest.
The first two I have ordered and were recommended by
friends. These stories are powerful reminders of what hate can
do but also of what hope, love and strength can endure.
In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of
Terezin by Cara Desilva shares the stories of the brave women
who defied their captors by preserving their heritage. Despite the
horrid conditions the prisoners' endured in the camps - cultural,
intellectual, and artistic life did exist within its hellish walls.
The handwritten cookbooks are proof that the Nazis could not break
the spirit of the Jewish people.
Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival: The Remarkable
Stories and Authentic Recipes of Holocaust Survivors
Feiss Hersh gives voice to the remarkable stories and
cherished recipes of the Holocaust community. The
first professionally written kosher cookbook of its kind is a
moving compilation of food memories, stories about food and
families, and recipes from Holocaust survivors from Poland,
Austria, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Russia,
Ukraine, and Greece.