Who are we?
Chen Weiss Naveh
Born in 1983 in Moshav Mishmar Ayalon near Ramla- her grandparents were among its founders, members of a group of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel in 1949 from the former Czechoslovakia. Chen is a middle school educational consultant and currently studying psychotherapy. As a girl, she was a picky eater but she grew up to love food. Chen is the only member of the family that keeps kosher: “I continue the tradition as a connection to my roots.”
Born in 1982 at the Tel Nof Air Force base, where his father served as career military personnel. Yonatan grew up in Kibbutz Nachshon, near Latrun, and when he was a teenager the family settled in Moshav Kidron (near Gedera). Yonatan is a certified accountant and works as finance manager for a biopharm start-up. He played basketball for many years and credits sports with his healthy diet. He inherited his love for the kitchen from his mother, Shuli: “After my military service I began to cook by following my mother’s recipes, like her like spaghetti Bolognese. Today I pickle my own olives and make wine with my father.”
Ruth (also known as Tutti), 7 years old, is in 2nd grade and goes to Sdot Ayalon Regional School in Beit Hashmonay, where her mother also studied. Ruth loves to eat everything on her plate, especially meat, and isn’t afraid to taste new foods, mostly off the plates of her dining companions. Her favorite food is steak, cooked medium.
Dan (also known as Dan-Dan), 5½ years old, goes to the same pre-school that his mother went to as a child. Dan enjoys football and sculpting with clay and every morning he goes out to the chicken coop behind the house to collect the eggs he loves to eat. His favorite dish is a poached egg that Yonatan prepares according to a recipe by “The Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver.
Yair (also known as Iri), 16 months old, is a smiling, non-stop toddler. Every evening he makes sure to say “good night” to panda the dog, and also to the chickens in the coop behind the house. Yair enjoys tasting everything but he especially loves corn cobs, which keep him occupied for a long time to the delight of his parents.
Where was the photo taken?
“We live in Moshav Mishmar Ayalon, in the same ‘agency house’ my grandparents lived in,” says Chen. “The green kitchen remains just as it was then- only the cabinets have been refurbished. I have vivid memories of the Saturdays I spent in this kitchen as a child. Back then we ate our lunch in several rounds because there wasn’t enough room for everyone in the tiny kitchen. First, at exactly 12 pm, Grandpa sat down to eat and only once he was finished did the grandchildren sit down with Grandpa staying by the door to make sure we were eating properly. Then, once we were done, the adults took our place. And we only got to drink water at the end of the meal.”
The same order, discipline and good taste followed through during the weekdays. “Grandma always made Rakott krumpli, a Hungarian potato, egg, and sour cream dish, on Wednesdays. And sometimes she would make Kakaós tészta, noodles with cocoa and sugar, or Bukta, Slovakian steamed buns stuffed with jam,” Chen reminisces.
Our family kitchen
Today, the same small kitchen where Chen’s grandmother, Elka, cooked her delicious food is buzzing with life, as new dishes join the flavors of Slovakia and Hungary. “You will always find someone in the kitchen, cooking or eating,” says Yonatan with a smile. “We grew up with different culinary traditions: Chen’s mother, Grandma Etty, grew up in a Persian household but she learned to cook Kneidlach soup and Rakott krumpli from her mother-in-law, Grandma Elka. My mother, Grandma Shuli, began to cook relatively late in life, after we left the kibbutz, and she got her recipes from our neighbors who came from Morocco and Bukhara. Even today, our kitchen home is an ‘Israeli mix’ of sushi, hummus, pizza and of course – schnitzel.”
The House Special: Shepherd’s Pie
This dish is made by both grandmothers, but the the Naveh family’s version is based on a recipe by Chef Israel Aharoni that Yonatan cut out of the newspaper. According to Yonatan, this is a complete meal, and any leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated the next day. “Originally the pie contains butter, but since Chen keeps kosher, I substituted the butter with olive oil,” says Yonatan.