Andrea Cooper, the author of today’s column, lives in Melbourne, Australia. We met more than 15 years ago on a listserv for public relations professionals. I can’t remember how long ago it was, but my children were still at home and her son, now in his 20s, was not yet a teenager. We discovered that we had much in common, including traditional Jewish practice, and have been in touch via email and Facebook since. We frequently chat about the similarities and differences in Jewish customs between the U.S. and Australia, not the least of which is their weird way of spelling many of the Yiddish terms that have made their way into English. Andrea currently runs a consulting firm called ComAbility, to help companies and organizations create communications that are accessible to people with disabilities. I’ve kept Andrea’s original British spellings for this week’s column, which reminds us how important it is to get recipes for beloved dishes from our elders. Here’s Andrea …
Most of us remember a special dish our mothers or grandmothers cooked. The flavour lingers in our memories, bringing back family gatherings and meals. When I was growing up, one of the treats Mum might make for Shabbat was an entrée dish called Eiren Zoyren. She often made it for visitors, who would say they’d never had anything like it before.
Eiren Zoyren is served cold. It is essentially eggs poached in a sauce. Over the years, Mum cooked it less often and then not at all. People were cutting back on the number of eggs they ate, fearing that too many might add to their cholesterol levels. The taste has stayed with me all my life. Whenever I would see a new Jewish cookbook, I’d unsuccessfully flip through trying to find the recipe.
Don’t procrastinate—get those recipes!
About a decade ago, when mum was getting near the end with her terminal cancer, it was one of two recipes (the other was her chicken soup) that I requested she show me how to make. We both procrastinated and finally she wasn’t well enough to make it with me. So we talked about how it was made, but not the exact quantities.
After she passed away, I presumed I’d find the recipe online. No luck! Over the years I’ve searched. The nearest is a German recipe that has some similarities, but is clearly different. My mother’s family comes from Lublin in Poland, so the original source of this recipe is likely to be amongst the Jewish community of that region. (My grandmother Pearl Redelman’s maiden name was Kelner. I’ve traced her Kelner line back to 1756 in Lublin. In the 1780’s census, a third of Lublin’s population at about 1,400 were Jews.)
My sister and I both were determined not to lose what we began to realise was a unique family specialty. None of my cousins had the recipe written down.
Aunty Dora to the rescue
A few years ago my sister visited my mum’s older sister in Adelaide. In her late 80s, she hadn’t made Eiren Zoyren for many years. Together my aunt and my sister made a batch and wrote down the recipe.
Yesterday, I found my sister’s handwritten copy of this recipe.
Today, I have made it, though with a few adjustments to meet my own taste memories.
In two days’ time, I will proudly serve my Shabbat guests this unique entrée.
Now I am writing this recipe down to share, so it may never again be lost. I present it in memory of my mother, Bell Cooper, and her mother Perl Redelman (nee Kelner), with special thanks to my Aunty Dora Chester and my sister Abigail.