Tuesday, April 8, 2014

55 Forsyth


Today I went in search of my great grandmother Molly, the one who used to make Baked Barley with Mushrooms.  I pushed Ethan in his stroller through the streets of lower Manhattan while he slept, and there, at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge I came upon a forgotten corner of the city where she used to live in 1911 at age 20.  The original building is not there anymore.  There's a small parking lot, some Chinese men smoking and spitting in the street.


For a little while I walked in her footsteps.  That woman I've never met, who died long before I existed.  Maybe her DNA is responsible for my long fingers and toes or my rare blood type.  Maybe her composition is why I have never broken a bone.  Perhaps she is the reason I love pumpernickel. 


Today, on my walk, I could see things in the grand scheme.  I think it's important not to forget.  Even though I never knew her, and know almost nothing about her.  It doesn't matter though.  Molly came long before me, and three generations later, I'm here because of her.

Next door, looks like an original building.
So even if all I do is make her barley with mushrooms, or maybe a rice pudding (certainly she ate that too) I will think of the strong women who came before me.  They lived harder lives than me, there is no doubting that.  I think that means I can rise to the challenge.

In Molly's time this was a Jewish Synagogue.  It's now a Greek Orthodox Church.


  1. Lovely words about your grandma..... Makes me think of mine!

  2. I really enjoyed taking this walk with you. Perhaps I will stroll there in person this summer. Just two days ago (you know because you 'liked' my photo on IG...) I was doing the same thing on my couch, flipping through a book my grandmother gave my mother as a baby during WWII, written in German blackletter. I was translating the parts I could decipher and showing the yellowed pages to my children and came across a series of names at the back of the book... uncles,aunts, brothers, sisters... I love that thread that connects the different generations of families, those little genetic things that show up in our children after skipping a few generations... Thank you for telling me the story of your family.

  3. It's a difficult feeling to describe, stepping where those before you stepped. I've explored many areas in Chicago in this manner. Looking back where my parents grew up, the first home they bought, the neighborhood where my grandmother lived in an apartment above a hot dog stand. The hot dog stand is gone... I think of your grandmother's recipes and realize there is so much I do not know.

    1. Denise, i read somewhere that most Americans can't name the first names of their ancestors 5 generations back. I know I can't. But it's a shame because it fascinates me the older I get, the more I want to know about them.

  4. How much I love this blog and the way you write!! I read your posts regularly and "stole" some awesome recipes and ideas :-) Will you continue posting? Any new stories and recipes sometime soon?

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