Flavors nourish the soul.
Those flavors remain even after the person who introduced them to you is gone. They are felt in the handprint and remain burned in the soul, emotion, memory and palate, and with them also the desire to restore and revive this taste.
I continue to commemorate my mother’s touch, years after her passing, through her recipe notebooks. Notebooks in which she wrote, translated and collected hundreds of recipes that she left behind, all written in Romanian and Hebrew, with a blue pen and a delicate round handwriting. Ingredients, stages of preparation, ideas, stains and leftover flour that has since crusted. A full life.
I translate her recipes, prepare them as they are, style and photograph. Record.
And this time, a recipe for potato salad with Herring. It’s such a summer salad, a cold salad, that my mother used to make for the weekend. A salad that can be placed on the table for a light meal and everyone will take as much as they want. A fun salad that keeps well in the fridge, and the day after it’s also fun to nibble on, like this, over the sink, when you’re hungry and want something satisfying and pleasing to your palate.
I chose to upload this recipe, because it was the first in my mother’s notebook, which I found and translated with my fathers help.
My mother was a cook in Hesed, and passed away (unexpectedly) 11 years ago. I actually began cooking to help my father (who was left alone) since her passing – I learned to cook from scratch, I tried to recreate dishes she used to make for him from memory or from recipes I found on the net. Since then I have actually been “cooking her” in a certain sense, cooking memories to calm and nourish the soul and my longing for her. At first I would cook in her kitchen, with her pots, mix with her wooden spoons and wear her apron – I sound like a typical Master Chef story… ?
The unwritten recipe book
After my mother passed away, I found a drawer in the kitchen filled with recipe notebooks and folders that she wrote in Romanian, or ones she translated for herself from Hebrew to Romanian, and also clippings of recipes from newspapers (in Hebrew and Romanian).
It took about 4 years after her passing to actually bring myself to open her recipe notebooks and even think about making food from her recipes.
Flipping through her notebooks it seemed that she had created a kind of internal organization, so that all the recipes she collected had a guideline, a theme and a category – just as if she had compiled the recipes for a cookbook.
I started with this salad – since (or because) I am a designer and photographer, I wanted to have an aesthetic aspect to the dishes I tried, apart from the nostalgic value – I started with the salad, my father helped me translate her handwriting into Hebrew, I prepared the recipe, styled and photographed the dish with the goal of documenting her recipes and ultimately creating a book – but a real book and not something that would remain inside the walls of the house and the family, something that would have a natural place in a bookstore, for example.
Ingredients for Potato Salad with herring
- 3-4 potatoes cooked and cut into large cubes
- 1 onion small, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon herbs chopped (dill, chives and parsley)
- 2 cucumbers chopped
- a handful Kalamata olives
- a few slices herring pickled
For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- olive oil
Prepare the dressing:
1. Beat the mayonnaise and the mustard together until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while beating until smooth and emulsified.
Prepare the salad:
2. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl, pour the dressing over, and gently mix.