Good Morning, Literati!

Not to be bested by her husband, Brian, Miryam Meier-Howard has entered our contest, apparently thinking Brian’s sci-fi story was half-baked. In this entry, Miryam uses her noodle to egg us on with our contest You Didn’t Write That.  “Nothin’ says lovin’, like somethin’ from the oven, and Pilsbury (no longer) says it best!”  Miryam does.  Here is her charming story.

You, too, could look like this. Just put your abs in the oven for eight minutes. Works each time. Absolutely

The Old Tin Box

By Miryam Meier-Howard

It is a common dish to be found on our table most Sabbaths. Plump egg noodles, soaked in fresh cream and eggs, sprinkled with brown sugar and scattered with bite-sized chunks of apples and white raisins. Slow baked until the noodles lose their wiggle and a light buttery crunch decorates the top. Such is my Kugel, — or not really my Kugel, but my mothers before me, and grandmothers before her… you get the picture.

On this day, my grand daughter, Gingeet was visiting, and at fourteen, I thought it was due time she try her hand at this matriarchal delicacy.

I hadn’t needed it in years, but on this occasion, it was fitting to bring out the old tin box, which held our ancestral recipes, written on mostly small sections of discarded box tops.  I handed the box to my red headed assistant and instructed,

“Look for the Kugel one, — it should be towards the back.”

She pulled out the crumpled piece of paper, and a look of bewilderment came across her freckled face. Her fingers ran slowly along the faded script. As she held it up to the light she said, “You didn’t write that Bubbie, I know your handwriting!”

“Oh… such a bright one you are my dear! Your great grandmother, Hannah, knew you would hold this in your hand one day, and when you did, it would be like she was holding your hand too. When you cook on Sabbath, my Gingeet, always remember, you are holding the hands of your ancestors, — still alive within our hearts.”

20 thoughts on “Tradition!

  1. Michael Stang says:

    On so many levels I am comforted by your story.  Isaac Singer remains in my top five list of hero authors and I was delighted (not surprised) to feel the same emotions when I read your very real tale of family.  Miryam, you are such a wonder.

  2. Julie4 says:

    I can relate to your story.  Nice job. 
    Four comments for your consideration. 
    1. Knowing the prompt, your foreshadowing at the end of your first paragraph gave away your ending to me.  I’m wondering it there’s another way to approach the first paragraph without giving away the history behind your narrator’s kugel recipe?
    2. Handing writing is one thing.  Would the great-grandmother’s recipe have been in English?  That is, the language alone would give away the recipe’s author, I think. (My maternal grandmother was the first one to write recipes in English.)
    3.  Regardless of the language, the recipe probably contained measurements in terms of “a bissel,” which would likely prompt questions from the granddaughter.  (My maternal grandmother used “a bissel” quite often, so much so that my mother had to experiment with some of the recipes to figure out U.S. customary units.)
    4. The use of the word “ancestors” didn’t ring true to me.  Maybe, “family” would be the more common usage? 
    Don’t get me wrong.  I do like your story quite a lot.  I’m humbly offering my suggestions above to as possibilities to weave into your story line to offer even more delight for the ending.  Please kindly take or toss my comments, as you wish.

    • Thorn says:

       We are a de-facto writers workshop.  Meaning suggestions are always encouraged.  My only stipulation is that whatever we write, we do it with love in our hearts, and surely that is what you do.

    • Miryam Howard says:

       Your suggestions are received and I feel grateful that you thought it was worthy of feedback. I agree with your comments and will take them to edit. It is quite challenging for me to write such a short piece and still keep it full of interest.  The beginning and end are so close together!! I enjoy learning this technique, and value everyone’s comments. Thanks so much Julie.

  3. Diane Cresswell says:

    The sentiment here oozes lineage lines.  I feel the same way when I come across a recipe that has my grandmother’s writing on it.  It speaks to us – those who come after of their love for us.  Oh you did make me fly with this one…memories and food linked forever in our cellular DNA.  Liked this a lot.

  4. Kyle says:

    Miryam,  Close knit stories of the heart, warm me the most. It brought back fond memories of kugel, home made matzo Ball soup and Friday shabbat dinners. So beautiful. Thank you.

  5. debi says:

    Beautiful story!  I esp love the sentence. “When you
    cook … always remember, you are holding the hands of your ancestors, – still
    alive within our hearts.” My grandparents helped raise my
    sister, brother and me. I’m so thankful for their influence and the stories
    they told that connect me and now my children and grandchildren to the past.


  6. Glclark says:

    I was waiting for Tevye to dance on stage singing, “Tradition!”. I love this story because it brings ancestors and tradition to life. I’m sorry parents don’t teach their children the traditions and lineage of their family. Your style is smooth, easy, and full of feelings. Congratulations on your writing talent and looking forward to seeing more.

  7. Mac Eagan says:

    Very good story, Miryam.  It seems to me that eating used to be as much of a social event as it was a physical necessity.  Now I often feel I am just stuffing nutrients in my gullet, to carry me on to the next task at hand.  I appreciate how this piece put the brakes on life, even if only for a moment.

  8. Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    Tradition is the usual vehicle in which our ancestral past reaches out to us in the present to say “I am still here with you” <3

  9. Chalice Divine says:

    Oh what a beautiful little vignette, with the sweeping lessons of a beloved matriarchy that spans generations. it is a component missing in far too many childhood homes. Thank you for this lovely reminder that those that came before also walked the difficult paths of lifes labirynth, with steps surer then the spiritual bereft.

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