Claudia Itzkowich is a writer, translator and editor whose interests shift from gastronomy to music or any other manifestation of human creativity and craft. She considers her own work a craft, only she wishes she were as dedicated, disciplined and patient as many of the people her career has allowed her to meet. She has a masters degree in historical studies, she was editor-in-chief of Mexico’s Travesias magazine for almost ten years, and her articles have appeared in Esquire Latin America, Travel & Leisure Mexico, Shtetl Montreal, Chilango and El Gourmet, among other publications in Mexico and Canada. She currently resides in Montreal.
Mi Abuela Rebeca: An Edible, Living Memory
To say I only knew my grandmother Rebeca through my dad’s stories would be misleading: she died in a tragic accident in an elevator when he was young.
Her sight and hearing were impaired, her Spanish was poor; he didn’t talk much about it.
My father’s depiction of his mother contained very few traits: a good soul, an amazing cook, the kind of baleboste who would make sure she could please each of her guests with his favorite dish -chopped liver, cocletn, potato kugel- even if it implied interminable hours in the kitchen, as cholent with kishke, his own favorite, required.
When my parents got married, it was arranged that my father’s nanny Rosa would move with us: she had learned how to make my grandmother’s recipes; she had also taught her those of her hometown, San Luis Potosi. And, together, they came up with new ones, where the Mexican and Jewish culinary traditions blended.
All my life I have eaten my grandmother’s chicken soup with knishes and kreplach, her potato kugel, her enchiladas and her Guefilte Fish “a la veracruzana”. I also make her pecan cake and her cinnamon cookies.
And, because pleasure is the main drive to do so, I feel like reproducing, eating and sharing her recipes is the most honest, natural -and even material- way to keep her alive.