Her name was Rachel Lavy, but I called her “Mutzi.” She was my grandmother.
Israel was a young nation in 1948 when, as a young mother, she moved there with my grandfather Eliezer (known to everyone as “Lazer”) and their infant son Menashe, my father. My grandfather had lost his entire first family during the cruel devastation of World War II. This was a new beginning.
Their house—the place where my father grew up—stood on a large lot surrounded by citrus trees, a pecan and others. They owned a small grocery store, and when I was a toddler, I would go with my father to help close the shop at the end of the day. Our house was between theirs and the store, and often, Mutzi would stop by and bring snacks to my sister Michal and me on her walk home.
My grandmother often fixed lunch for us after school while my mom Ofra was working. They say I loved my grandfather, but I was only 18 months old when he died of a heart attack at the age of 63. Heartbroken, Mutzi rented out the store and retired soon after that. Recently, I moved to the United States from Israel with my wife Inbal and children Amiti and Yoav. Making the journey with us were many reminders of my grandmother. In my study is her cabinet. The shelves are lined with books, mostly written in German.
My grandmother was a voracious reader. Behind one of the cabinet’s three doors is a 1959 hand-drawn portrait of my father when he was 12 years old.
Another favorite piece of furniture is my grandmother’s armchair. The television show All In The Family was a hit in Israel during the mid ’70s and early ’80s. With only one television channel, everyone watched the show together. The armchair always reserved for Mutzi was nicknamed Archie’s Chair, after the main character Archie Bunker. The rest of our family were scattered around her.
My grandmother’s house was the place where everyone gathered for most holiday dinners. She was a good cook, who knew how to make the most out of modest ingredients. I have her tableware, and it is a daily connection to those long-ago meals. Her European ways—table manners, serving multiple courses, even for weekday lunches— made a lasting impression on me. These meals were my first step to appreciating the finer elements of dining.
This recipe is a tribute to hers. Like most family recipes, it was never written but I treasure those memories of watching her make it. She came from a generation of people who had lived through the horrors of war and appreciated the gift of being alive. They lived simple lives, not asking much for themselves, happy to nurture and care for the next generation.
Lior Lavy is the Vice-President of Marketing and co-owner of Artizone, an online home-delivery service specializing in local artisan food items.
Edible Dallas & Fort Worth is a quarterly local foods magazine that promotes the abundance of local foods in Dallas, Fort Worth and 34 North Texas counties. We celebrate the family farmers, wine makers, food artisans, chefs and other food-related businesses for their dedication to using the highest quality, fresh, seasonal foods and ingredients.