by Cécile Fimbel
Lucie, my maternal grandmother, was the most adorable granny. But before being a granny, she had been a young girl of breathtaking beauty. She was the youngest of 6 children of a family uprooted from the Ottoman Empire. Married at 21 to my grandfather Joseph, they lived a golden youth in Cairo before being forced into exile in 1957, like most of the Jews of Egypt.
She enveloped us in her Jewish grandmother’s love and called us (her three grand-daughters), Rohi (my soul) or Katkuta (chick), pinching our cheeks a little too hard for our taste. She never lost her accent and always rolled the “R”, unlike my grandfather who thought you had to get rid of the accent to fit better in. Every visit from us was an opportunity for her to prepare our favourite dishes: bamya, meatballs in tomato sauce, sambousseks, baklawa, roghayebas, menenas, savory or sweet rosquettes…What is certain is that we did not lose weight by visiting them.
When I was a child, you had to go to the Armenian grocery store at the Cadet subway station, in the 9th of Paris to make filas with cheese or other oriental dishes. It was an expedition from which we returned full of treasures that couldn’t be found elsewhere. Now, I blame myself for not having looked carefully when she was cooking the rosquettes or the meatballs… All the recipes written by her hand contain few instructions and a lot of “you see how it comes”. Well, for me it never comes like her!
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