1945: an amazing cookbook
September 12, 2018 5:23 AM   Subscribe

The cookbook was made in 1945 by Hungarian-Jew Edith Peer (nee Gombos) when she was an inmate at Ravensbrück concentration camp for women, located in northern Germany. The cookbook is the only object of its kind in Australia and one of six known 'fantasy cookbooks' written by Holocaust concentration camp prisoners in the world.

"In every dish that is cooked, there is a story of what has been lost and what has been saved. "

"The Monday Morning Cooking Club, the Sydney-based group of friends who have been sharing recipes from the Jewish community since 2006, honour grief and survival with their special blend of cooking and storytelling."
posted by freethefeet (7 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you. This is fantastic.
posted by nestor_makhno at 6:46 AM on September 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'd expect that food reveries would be a further torment, in this situation - but I have seen accounts elsewhere from survivors, recalling sessions of describing elaborate menus to hope for in freedom.
posted by thelonius at 7:02 AM on September 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh gosh. I did a short stint volunteering on a kibbutz (as a tourist really), and was invited the first night to a dessert potluck. Of course, I had nothing to bring, so I wrote the most over-the-top description I could of a fantasy dessert and read it to everyone. I saved it, here it is:
Imagine chocolate cake, in seven layers by turns light, dark, darker, darkling, tenebrous, silhouette, absolute black; these seven crosscut, chessboardwise, by infusions of hazelnut, walnut, cardamom, Turkish coffee, Rheinland kirsch, bitter orange, and some nameless element that has no flavor of its own but only intensifies the pleasure-giving qualities of that in which it is mixed; this mass, mantled in whisky gianduja ganache, dotted with ornaments of pistachio marzipan and halves of tart Montmorency cherries, floats on an ocean of sweet cream, faintly scented with orange blossom, on which cinnamon-stick boats with carved-sugar sails ply the surface, as in a Ladino love song; some great mascarpone fish, its gills addled by the rum it was soaked in, has washed up on the side of the cake island, and off in the distance one can espy atolls of meringue, gingerbread, and delicate dacquoise sprouting volcanoes of raspberry sorbet; while a direct excavation of the sea floor reveals a flaky pecan praline tectonic plate marbled with veins of salt caramel, from which, when punctured by accident or by design, nothing wells up but harmless Madagascan vanilla. B'te avon!
Of course there's nothing remotely comparable in the circumstances -- except for being human, for finding comfort in the resources of one's inner being when material resources are lacking. I'm gladdened by the reminder that people do this even in the greatest extremity.
posted by aws17576 at 8:16 AM on September 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

This was wonderful. I would love to see some of the recipes translated from the book, and it would be really special to try to try to make one.

My grandma was the best cook I knew, but she was in a nursing home and her memory was gone before I could properly prepare anything myself. It has been a unique joy finding her old recipes (one of her most special ones was from a box) and re-creating those dishes. It brings her back to life for just a little bit. It would be neat to honor these women in a similar way.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:19 AM on September 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

My eyes are watering - and I’m glad my mom is sending a honey cake in the mail.
posted by 41swans at 11:08 AM on September 12, 2018

This made me cry. As I worry today about friends in the Carolinas and Virginia and Georgia and wonder how many will lose their homes, this article reminds me of how the really valuable things are in our hearts and minds during traumatic events. Our memories of happy times sharing love and food give us hope even in the very worst of times.
posted by narancia at 3:03 PM on September 13, 2018

This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Mchelly at 8:40 PM on September 13, 2018

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