For my grandmother, a quintessential Jewish mother, food was love. It was her way to take care, to provide, to treat us.
There was no such thing as going to her house and not eating. As soon as you walked in the door, she’d ask you if you were hungry. Regardless of your answer, she’d launch into a list of available noshes.
“I’ve got chopped liver,” she’d say, or “How about a pastrami sandwich?”
“Maybe a bagel with lox?”
If you declined, you were subjected to a long, unstoppable, often hilarious sales pitch.
“Are you sure?”
“I can fix it right up.”
“I bought it special for you.”
You’d say, “Jewish mother! I’m not hungry!” But it made no difference. Eventually, you’d eat. It was simply easier than not.
My Achilles heel, however, was her strawberry sponge cake. Sweet and creamy, soft and pillowy, fruity and bright—she knew it was one of my favorites and I hardly ever said no.
I’m not sure if eating to make someone happy is a good thing—maybe sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not.
But I have no doubt about her love or her strawberry sponge cake.