LIKE GRANDMA USED TO MAKE
The project showcases the food of the vanished Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and also tells extraordinary survival stories. No meal without a story to accompany it!
This project is a celebration of the wisdom of the female elder. When you cook with your grandmother, you learn a whole lot more than the recipe. You learn small tips that you imbibe without knowing it about how long dough should be left to rise, or how hot the oil should be before you fry; secrets that turn you into an accomplished cook too.
More importantly, you also learn family history, and your place in the world. You learn that the kitchen is the heart of the home. You learn that special meals are prepared for celebrations, but that you can make an ordinary meal special too, just by caring about how you prepare it. You learn that food is the key to good health. You learn that food brings people together. You learn it can do that even after arguments, that a meal taken together can resolve differences.
You learn generosity, warmth and hospitality. You learn love.
They call it the Great Generation, and when you spend time with the men and women who lived through World War Two you can see why. They are simply amazing. In their youth, they saw and endured things we can’t imagine. Now, in old age, many remain resilient, tough, hard-working, argumentative, funny and busy. It seems they never like to be idle. Above all, they are involved in life.
At the end of the War, most of them were teenagers, robbed of loved ones, their homes and the chance of an education. Wanting to start over, they migrated, often arriving in their new homes in the US or Australia with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The one thing they all brought with them was the recipes inside their heads.
For these women, through hard years as migrants when they built new lives, the kitchen was the source of their strength. They say that it was food – and love - that helped them build families and hold them together.
Irris Makler is a broadcast journalist, foreign correspondent and author, currently based in Jerusalem, where she cooks fresh, healthy food, using the wonderful local produce.
Irris was one of the founding team on ABC TV's acclaimed narration free documentary strand Australian Story.
Irris has produced and directed Taste of Memory, with 3 of the women from this project for ABC Australia, as both a TV and a radio documentary. [Go to our media page to check them out]
A long-time Middle East reporter who has filed from Baghdad, Gaza and Cairo, Irris has also worked in the UK (for the BBC) and in Russia (for the ABC), where she was Moscow correspondent and bureau chief.
Everywhere she travels to report the news, Irris is interested in the stories that women can tell, and what affects their day to day lives. She haunts farmers markets in each city from Tashkent to Tel Aviv, and is also a cook.
There is a personal reason why she is drawn to this project.
Irris never wrote down her own grandmother’s recipes.
Books: Irris was one of the first journalists into Afghanistan after 9-11. She wrote a book about that time, Our Woman in Kabul, which was an Australian best-seller. Her second book Hope Street, Jerusalem, is about the Middle East, and is part reporter’s memoir and part love story.
David Mane is an award-winning Sydney photographer, whose subjects include comedians, politicians and sportsmen, as well as ordinary Australians on their wedding days.
He produces his contemporary, lively, often whimsical work from his own studio.
He has shown over the years, and not only in this project, that he has a special way with Jewish grandmothers, who can’t resist his sense of humour. As a result, no one can take a better photo of them.
His pictures are glossy, but they combine style with authenticity. He seems to reach into people’s souls, and draw out their most positive aspects. These joy-filled photos of Holocaust survivors and their grandchildren come from how he sees these triumphant women, who have lived through so much.
David’s father Sam Mane, the well-spring of his humour, was fortunate to arrive in Australia from Poland just before World War Two. All his relatives who remained behind were killed in the Holocaust. This is his story too.
And of course David is a foodie.
Judy Ingram is an art director, illustrator, typographer, web designer and generally food obsessed individual whose background is in advertising. Her work has appeared both in Australia (where she’s from) and overseas and has been recognised with numerous awards.
She also pioneered a highly successful and awarded healthy convenience food business.
Both her parents were Holocaust survivors and most of her family perished in the death camps so this project is very close to her heart. Her parents taught her that food and humour are noble pastimes and she can often be found laughing and eating.