Elizabeth, or Lizbeth as my grandfather liked to call her, was known to our family members and friends as Oma, a tall statuesque woman who reluctantly immigrated to Canada with my mother from West Germany in 1953 to join my grandfather who arrived six months earlier.
Oma’s life was devoted to taking care of others, and she was well equipped. She possessed the domestic talents and old world skills that made her both resourceful and well polished. From tailored suits made from high quality European fabrics, to table cloths with complex embroidery, my grandmother could transform raw materials into works of art. The kitchen was no exception.
Typical of German cuisine, Oma’s culinary repertoire consisted of meals that were rich, hardy and always delicious. While others kids may have been eating the then fashionable boxed cereals of the 70s, my morning plate typically consisted of a soft boiled egg, dense rye bread, a slice of edam cheese and black forest ham. Herring in a tomato base with a slice of Dimpflmeier bread and a tossed green salad was a lunchtime favourite, one that I still enjoy today. And evening meals were usually a combination of roasted meats, potatoes and savoury side dishes like sauerkraut, thinly sliced cucumbers with chopped green onions or haricot beans in a vinaigrette base.
Oma was the family matriarch and I have many fond memories of our small family gathered around her dining room table for festive meals and holiday favourites. I can still taste her classic Christmas dessert with its alternating layers of moist cake, sweetened butter, and raspberry compote topped with dark chocolate sprinkles.
Oma was a giver, and she asked for nothing in return.
As the daughter of a single mother working shift work at a local factory, I need only walk down the hall from the two-bedroom apartment I shared with my mother and two older brothers to my grandparents flat where she cared for me while my mother was at work.
I have her to thank for years of nourishment, a labour of love and duty she continued to fulfill without protest even during her period of grief and despair.
I remember visiting Oma a couple of weeks before she passed and taking her on a walk to a bakery just down the road from the retirement home where she spent the last three months of her life. That short walk for a loaf of bread was the last time we spent together.
This donation to Community Food Centres Canada is in memory of you, Oma. #myfoodhero
- Rhonda Barron is Advocacy and Policy Manager at Community Food Centres Canada.
Thanks to Rhonda 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 Rhonda by making a donation today!
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