Last year, I was getting my MBA in London. There, I met Oded, a pastry chef from Israel, who would become a dear friend to me. Each week, Oded and I would take a break from our studies and spend Sundays in the kitchen. As he measured out ingredients, I would anxiously write the recipe in my notebook, hoping to be able to recreate his yummy concoctions when I no longer had my teacher near me.
Often, we would speak about how recipes are passed down through generations. I told him that right before my father passed away I was able to make his famous chopped liver with him (and write down the recipe, of course). Now, I bring my father’s chopped liver to all the Jewish holidays, thrilled to feel that, in some way, my dad is still present.
Oded then showed me a picture of a famous gravestone he’d seen in Poland. He translated the engravings for me: it was the recipe for “Grandma Ida’s Nut Cookies.” Apparently, friends and family had always asked Ida for her cookie recipe and she wanted to be sure that her family continued to bake the cookies after she was gone.
I love the idea of using the gravestone to memorialize a recipe! And what a wonderful legacy! An epitaph of a few words rarely does justice to a life well lived. By leaving friends, family, and even strangers this recipe, a bit of Grandma Ida will remain forever. Oded and I never got around to making Grandma Ida’s nut cookies, but we’ll always have the recipe.