From the time I was born until I went away to University, I spent every Thursday at my grandparent's house with my parents, my sisters, my aunt Marilyn and my uncle Sol. These small, intimate gatherings were organized by Bubbie Sala and Zadie Moshe, my food heroes!
Every week was identical: we’d munch on bread and olives while Bubbie would serve spaghetti with a thin, sweet tomato sauce. Bubbie would fuss over us and make sure we had all eaten enough, and my Zadie would ham it up — usually by eating so fast that his lips were coated in sauce that he pretended was lipstick. This joke never got old, and I never tired of my Bubbie’s spaghetti, which remains, to this day, unrivaled by any top chef.
The gathering of any family around a meal is important, but I think for Bubbie and Zadie it held a special meaning. They met in 1945, in a hospital designated for Jewish survivors liberated from concentration camps; both of them from Auschwitz. They had no home, virtually no family (from their respective families only Zadie’s brother survived), no belongings, and no reason to stay in Poland. They married quickly and were sent to Italy where they began to piece their lives back together. Bubbie learned to cook Italian food and Zadie learned how to grow tomatoes. It was in Italy that my mother was born and spent most of her childhood before they moved to Toronto in 1960.
As a kid, I loved Thursday night dinners for obvious reasons — I got to spend the night with some of my favourite people and eat my favourite food — but it’s only as an adult that I’ve really understood their significance. These dinners were more than a just a meal to my grandparents, they were a chance to gather their loved ones, three generations strong, and to carve out predictability, dignity and comfort in their lives. My grandparents deserved that — we all do — and that’s why I’ve made a donation in their honour to Community Food Centres Canada, to support their work of bringing people together around food.
- Danielle Goldfinger is Fundraising and Events Manager at Community Food Centres Canada.
Thanks to Danielle for making a donation to the #myfoodhero campaign, which supports Community Food Centres Canada to offer empowering food programs that build better health, skills, and belonging in the communities that need it most. Join Danielle by making a donation today!
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