Patricia Fieldsteel

Family Meals Without Reservations

My family wasn’t Jewish—except on both grandparents’ sides. We celebrated Christmas and Easter and attended Christian Science Sunday School. When my mother cooked, she prepared goyishe concoctions such as tuna-noodle casserole with cream of mushroom soup. Our culinary highlight was Sunday when my grandparents visited bearing bagels, smoked salmon and sturgeon, babka, rugelach and homemade chopped chicken liver. Although I associated these treats with my grandparents, with their love and warmth, I quickly assimilated that they were secret foods, eaten and spoken of only within the confines of our home. The word “Jewish” was mentioned sotto voce only en famille, as if anyone other than a room full of Jews could have heard.

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