gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Family food and family history

This afternoon I'm thinking of flavour profiles. I just made my last batch of matzah latkes, finishing up the ingredients for the season. I sampled one, just to be certain I wasn't going to poison my friends accidentally* and then it struck me that this way of cooking the latkes came from my father's mother's family**. It's the exact balance of flavours and the mouthfeel. It matches up with the flavours and mouthfeel in so many sweet dishes from that side of the family, including my grandmother's Jewish Christmas pudding***. There is a 'Polack' way of doing things that's quite distinctive.

A few years ago I traced it back via my grandmother's notes and found that her grandmother brought it out from London. This was one of the flavour profiles that Sephardi Jews in the Aldgate area cooked with, right up to the big cultural change from the mid-nineteenth century.

The ingredients are nothing special: cinnamon and sugar and egg and raisins and matzah meal and milk and butter. Together, however, they carried my family through two hundred years.

*If I'm going to poison them, I'd rather it was with intent.
**Most years I cook them Mum's way, which is far more Eastern European in style. This year I needed emotional sustenance, and emotional sustenance always takes me to Dad's mother's food, even though she died when I was a toddler. Solace comes from eating Mum's cooking or from cooking Grandma Polack's way. It's a mystery.
***currants and cinnamon instead of raisins and cinnamon, but very familiar

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