Who are we?
Shoshana (Shoshi) Cohen-Levran
Shoshi was born on the island of Djerba in Tunisia in 1947 and made aliyah to Israel with her parents, Aziza and Khdeir Cohen, and her older brother, Hawathi, in 1948. The family arrived in Tiberias, where Shoshi’s great-grandfather Raphael Cohen- who built the tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal Ha-Ness’- and his wife, Miriam, were buried; they themselves had made aliyah in 1924. Several weeks later, Shoshi and her family moved to the city of Lod. In 1964 Shoshi studied practical nursing at the Mental Health Center in Be’er Ya’akov. She married Nissim Cohen in 1966 and their first daughter, Talya (Una), was born a year later. In 1968 they moved to Nahariya, where Nissim’s family lived, and had five more daughters- Ilanit, Sigalit, Michal, Sharon, and Yaarit. Shoshi and Nissim separated in 1992, but they maintained a warm relationship, and celebrate holidays together to this day.
Talya (Una) Cohen
Talya lives in Kibbutz Negba with her daughter Amit. Talya has a bachelor’s degree in engineering, economics and management and has a master’s degree in business administration. Her thinking is sharp, but she is also very sensitive and has excellent taste. She recently discovered she has a gluten sensitivity and is now the queen of gluten-free cooking. Her specialty is delicious desserts.
Ilanit Cohen Fridman
Ilanit is married to Lior, they live in Ness Ziona with their sons Itay, Omer, and Yonatan. Ilanit is a graphic designer, and studied art curation and produces conceptual events for companies. She was a wonderful child, her mother Shoshi says, she just didn’t like to eat.
Never called Sigalit, but rather known as Sigal, Sigi, or Sigush, married to Aviv, and mother to Tamar and Noga. She lives in Bat Shlomo, a Moshav on the southern slope of Mount Carmel. Sigush owns a sewing and design studio where she makes clothing and accessories for children. She always helped her mother patiently, especially when making cookies.
Michal is married to Dotan and mother to Alon, Uri, and Ophir. They live in Pardes Hanna, beyond Kibbutz Alonim in the Jezreel Valley. Michal is a science teacher and a teaching instructor for science and technology. In her youth Michal studied theater and does excellent impressions. She is the connection to Grandma Aziza and to Grandpa Khdeir; every Wednesday, at six in the morning, she prepares pots of food for the entire week.
Sharon is married to Amir and is the mother to Ido, Uri, and Naama. She lives in Kibbutz Shomrat in the west Galilee. Sharon is an art teacher and hosts food & wellness workshops. She is the bridge connecting the past with the present: her cooking is health-oriented, building on the foundations she received from her mother. Her meatballs, for example, are
made of lentils instead of meat, and they are baked rather than fried.
Yaarit Cohen Clapouch
Yaarit is married to Yonatan and mother to Hallel, Noam, Shiloh, and Yuval. She lives in Sdei Avraham, a Moshav in the Eshkol region. Yaarit is a nurse by profession and is studying to fulfill her dream of becoming a midwife. She cooks just like her mother and father, and can cook for 100 people without breaking a sweat. In addition to cooking traditional dishes, she is also drawn to Italian cuisine and makes fantastic pasta.
Where was The photo taken?
“For my 70th birthday my six wonderful daughters gave me a truly special gift: a cookbook in which they recreated the flavors of their childhood,” Shoshana says. This photo was taken in my daughter Ilanit’s house in Nes Ziona during a photoshoot for the cookbook, which later went on to become a bestseller and even won the 2018 Gourmand world Cookbook Award, also referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of cookbooks.
“When we wrote the book we had many different ideas. I searched within myself for spices with certain aromas that fit certain foods and that tied into certain stories. It was as if I was reading forgotten entries in an encyclopedia inside me. I went over the spices one by one, the raw ingredients, the memories. Parts of the stories seemed as if they had been erased. I searched within myself, had conversations with my daughters and visited my Aunt Miriam, my mother’s youngest sister, all of which brought back many things,” Shoshana tells about the search process that finally gave birth to the multitude of recipes and stories collected in the book.
Our family kitchen
Mom liked to cook at night, when it was quiet. She divided the cooking into two: preparing the salads and stews, and baking the bread. The preparation of the salads started on Thursday: cooking the carrots, potatoes, beets and pumpkin; frying the eggplants; roasting the peppers, eggplants and tomatoes. The smells filled the house and the yard. Perfectly calm, with impeccable neatness and an inner peace that comes with undertaking a task in which every step has already been planned well in advance, Mom fried, roasted, peeled, sliced, chopped and mashed. On Friday morning Mom prepared the dough for the bread. She always said that the mood determines how well the dough will rise and that all the energy in the body goes into the dough. There were very few times when Mom’s dough didn’t rise or come out as it should.
The amount of time it took the bread to rise was the same amount of time Mom needed to finish making the salads. There was a fresh green salad seasoned with lots of lemon, dill, celery, and caraway; this salad was for Friday lunch, when we returned home from school. She also always made a mshiyer salad with carrot (which wasn’t spicy, for us kids), and tirshi. The other salads varied. All the elements that Mom had prepared the previous night came together to create fantastic flavors. Mom mixed, tasted, and added more lemon, a bit more salt or a drizzle of oil. By the end of the morning there would be stacks of boxes filled with salads in different colors and perfectly seasoned with cumin, caraway, paprika, lemon, garlic and parsley.
Then she would prepare the best couscous in the world, and the soup for the couscous, full of coarsely chopped fresh vegetables, and of course the kiftot- meat and vegetable patties. These were also made for Friday lunch and we followed our noses home from school. The memory of those dishes always sends us back to our childhood. Friday lunch was the most delicious and the most fun of all the meals. The plates were steaming as we ate soup and couscous in the same bowl. Dad ate his couscous and soup from separate dishes.
After lunch, we finished preparing the dishes that were served on Shabbat. It was often one of two types of slow-cooked stew (called chamin in Hebrew, or dfina in Arabic), bkeila (mangold stew) or arisa (wheatberry stew) served alongside kuklot (semolina pancakes). Finally, Mom would bake the bread. To this day Mom uses her own bread dough for the “Hamotzi” blessing.
When she was done with all the preparations Mom took a shower, put on a comfortable robe and finally sit down, holding the roller hairbrush that was commonly used in those days to create a bouffant hairstyle, or abu agila. She brushed her hair with long rolling motions and then covered it with a thin hairnet. It was time for her pre-Shabbat nap.
The House Special
In our home there was only one type of dough which we used to prepare several types of bread: a braided loaf, like the challah for Shabbat, a traditional Tunisian loaf, called bouchouka, an oval shape with pointed ends and a fat middle, and Grandma would bake kishlaya- a long dough cylinder scored at even intervals with a sharp knife and rolled to a spiral, creating the shape of a flower.