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The Bubbe Chronicles Vol. 1: Eating with Bubbe

14 December 2009 2,818 views 47 Comments

Adam’s Bubbe, Bessie Holzband, is ninety eight and a half years old. We love to spend time with her when we visit Houston for holidays like Passover and most recently, Thanksgiving.

I’ve known Bubbe for less than a year but she introduces me as one of her grandchildren to the staff and residents in her retirement community. It’s very sweet. I call her Bubbe which isn’t a conflict of interest for me because: a) all of my grandparents have passed away and b) my grandmothers were known as “Mama” and “Nagymama” respectively.

bubbe in mirror

Bubbe checks her look in the mirror before heading down to the dining hall.

Bubbe is a kindred spirit. She loves food — especially dessert and chocolate (like her grandson Adam). One of her favorite topics is what they serve in her cafeteria vs. what they served at the Medallion, where she lived until this past spring. I love listening to her talk about anything, especially about her history and of course food.

Adam and I sat and talked with Bubbe, along with Marilyn, a family friend, before Thanksgiving dinner this year.


Bubbe (BB): I don’t like pumpkin pie. [turns to Marilyn] You love it?

Marilyn (M): Me? Yes, I do.

BB: I think about all that goop that you take out of the pumpkins when you make it. And, you put a lot of cinnamon in it.

Adam (A):
You don’t like cinnamon?

BB: I love cinnamon.

BB: Since I’m in Texas, I love pecan pie. I’ll tell you what I eat in the pecan pie [originally from Iowa, Bubbe also lived many years in Los Angeles]. Only the top. The pecan’s are delicious. You know what is one of my favorite pies? Key lime. I love key lime. Years ago, I used to make lemon squares as a substitute to that key lime pie but I never had that lime taste. To this day, Carol (Bubbe’s niece) makes them and calls them Aunt Bessie’s Squares.

BB: I like sweet potatoes. But, I’ve never eaten sweet potato pie. I’m not sold on all the crusts. I like most of the cream pies. They serve us wonderful desserts at the Belmont. They served chocolate cream pie and….That. Is. Good. It’s the real whipped cream. I hate cool whip. Real whipped cream has a very slight beige color. It’s off-white because it has more air in it.

bubbe reviews menu

Bubbe reviews the dinner menu as Adam looks on

Jodi (JB): Tell us about the club sandwich.

BB: That was a mistake. The dining room is being redone. The club sandwich had ham and bacon and cheese. So I bit into it and I looked in the corner and I looked all around and I says, I gotta find a place to spit this. I split it in my napkin. I didn’t eat it. It was whole wheat bread and I didn’t eat the lettuce and I didn’t eat the tomato and I didn’t eat the cheese or the ham. I didn’t suffer from not eating it.

BB: I’ll tell you the truth, I like the food at the Belmont, and I eat a lot more different things there than I ever ate at Medallion but I do miss some of the Jewish food.

BB: Once they had corned beef. Their corned beef [non-Jews] doesn’t look like our [Jewish-style] corned beef.

lenny

Lenny at Kenny & Ziggy's, a Houston Jewish Deli

Lenny (Bubbe’s son and Adam’s dad): They steam it, they cut it thicker and they usually serve it with cabbage.

BB: So I ordered a corned beef sandwich. They didn’t have rye bread so they brought me white bread. I can’t eat white bread, it sticks to the roof of my mouth.

BB: I don’t like goyishe [non-Jewish] food. I love shrimp. I don’t like clams, I don’t like scallops [Adam tells me that Bubbe keeps "kinda kosher," except for fried shrimp which is her favorite].

The conversation continued a couple days later when Adam and I sat with Bubbe as she sat down to dinner at the Belmont.


BB: I like grape juice. It tastes like wine. That’s what i drink. it’s supposed to be good for you. Trouble is, everything I like is fattening.

dinner

BBQ Chicken Sandwich dinner at the Belmont - on wheat bread, since Bubbe can't have white ;-)

BB: I have to put it on like this because I dribble [on tucking her napkin into her shirt like a bib].

BB: I put salt on everything. They [the cooks at the Belmont] don’t put salt on anything.

BB: I can’t have white bread [to the waitress ].

BB: I can’t eat white bread, I hate it [to me and Adam].

Stay tuned for more of The Bubbe Chronicles: Eating with Bubbe. I’m hoping that she’ll let me record video of her talking about food. She is the best story teller and remembers everything and I love the way her voice gets high at the end of each sentence.

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  • Diane

    I love hearing about my Aunt Bessie. This sounds just like her.

  • jodibart

    Isn't she the best? I have to get her on video to truly capture her cute/amazingness. Maybe next time :-)

  • Paula Holzband

    from Paula (Adam's Mom)…….Jodi, your blog on Bubbe is wonderful! She's an amazing woman. She will absolutely get a kick out of what you've done about her. Can't wait to see/read more of your Bubbe Chronicles.

  • FoodieIsTheNewForty

    Oh, I am in love with Bubbe already!

    “Trouble is, everything I like is fattening.” –> she's a woman after my own heart.

  • jodibart

    Isn't she the best? I have to get her on video to truly capture her cute/amazingness. Maybe next time :-)

  • Paula Holzband

    from Paula (Adam's Mom)…….Jodi, your blog on Bubbe is wonderful! She's an amazing woman. She will absolutely get a kick out of what you've done about her. Can't wait to see/read more of your Bubbe Chronicles.

  • FoodieIsTheNewForty

    Oh, I am in love with Bubbe already!

    “Trouble is, everything I like is fattening.” –> she's a woman after my own heart.

  • EvanLA

    So, did I ever tell you about the time Aunt Bess (Adam's bubbe) changed my eating habits forever? I was probably 5 or maybe 35, but I wouldn't eat mushrooms. She sat wth me at my grandma's house and said “Evan, these are special mushrooms, They are TEXAS mushrooms. You've just got to try them”! So I did and loved em. For years after I wouldn't eat mushrooms unless reassured that they were TEXAS mushrooms. Then more years went by before I realized that all mushrooms are TEXAS mushrooms, aren't they? Thanks Aunt Bess! Love, Evan

  • bushworlda

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  • Marilynn & Al Eisenberg

    Paula & Lenny – thanks for sharing this with us. Well done, Jodi – we look forward to meeting the author of such a wonderful journal! Bessie brings a smile to our faces, just at the mention of her name. We've shared some time and some special meals – second night Seder at the Holzband's last year, was a treat. As we recall, Bessie sat patiently through the whole proceedings until we finally got to dessert, her favorite meal!

  • Linda

    I love Bubbe already. This was such a great blog, Jodila. I hope I am like Bubbe when I am her age. She is a treasure and I know she adds so much to your life. You have made her a star. By the way, my grandma was a “Bubbe' also. Love, Mom

  • jodibart

    I'm so glad to hear that you like it, Paula. I hope Bubbe does too!

  • jodibart

    It would be fun to introduce her to all of the food bloggers. Maybe if we ever do another taco tour in H-town?

  • jodibart

    I'm guessing that you were probably 5 ;-) I didn't know how Bubbe felt about Texas mushrooms but Adam and I ate some glorious sauteed local oyster mushrooms this weekend. Bubbe would have been proud :-)

  • jodibart

    She really loves dessert, doesn't she?!

  • jodibart

    I didn't know you had a Bubbe, mom. Was she your dad's mom? I hope to introduce you to Bubbe one day. You would get such a kick out of her!

  • marilynozaroff

    Jodi, what a talent you are! Captured “Bubbe” perfectly. It's always a joy (and a learning experience) spending time with Bess. Look forward to the next installment, and seeing you and Adam again soon.

    Love ya, Marilyn

  • Batya Boxt

    We haven't met, but my mom, “friend Marilyn”, sent me the link to your blog. Your blog is great & everyone's right, you do capture Aunt Bess on the nose! Can't wait to meet you one day. I've heard so much about you & we do have mutual friends (besides Adam!).

    Batya :)

  • Bubbe

    jodi–you have made me famous or outragous by putting me in print. Bubbe

  • marilynozaroff

    Jodi, what a talent you are! Captured “Bubbe” perfectly. It's always a joy (and a learning experience) spending time with Bess. Look forward to the next installment, and seeing you and Adam again soon.

    Love ya, Marilyn

  • Batya Boxt

    We haven't met, but my mom, “friend Marilyn”, sent me the link to your blog. Your blog is great & everyone's right, you do capture Aunt Bess on the nose! Can't wait to meet you one day. I've heard so much about you & we do have mutual friends (besides Adam!).

    Batya :)

  • Bubbe

    jodi–you have made me famous or outragous by putting me in print. Bubbe

  • Paula Holzband

    Jodi, she does love it…….she's got a big smile on her face!

  • Paula Holzband

    Jodi, she does love it…….she's got a big smile on her face!

  • jodibart

    Hi Batya I've heard about you also and hope to meet you soon. Who else do we know in common? If I know Houston, I'd have to guess Liza…am I right?

  • jodibart

    I am so honored and impressed that you commented, Bubbe. I'm still pushing for us to get you a computer so we can e-mail back and forth!

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Teri. I have heard Paula talk about you often and am honored that you read the blog. Stay tuned to the next installment of Bubbe's Food Blogging Chronicles!

  • Judy Shubb

    We always knew that Bubbe, Aunt Bessie was a character…..She's great and we love her..

  • Teri Wathen

    What a creative blog. Such talent to be able to take “food” and “Bubbe” and put them in the same context. Oy vay, what am I thinking?!! All Bubbe's want us to “lick our plates clean”, don't they? Can't wait to meet you, Jodi! From Teri Wathen (friend of Lenny and Paula's)

  • jodibart

    I know! Don't you just love listening to her. She has the best sense of humor and is a true joy to be around :-)

  • jodibart

    Hi Batya I've heard about you also and hope to meet you soon. Who else do we know in common? If I know Houston, I'd have to guess Liza…am I right?

  • jodibart

    I am so honored and impressed that you commented, Bubbe. I'm still pushing for us to get you a computer so we can e-mail back and forth!

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Teri. I have heard Paula talk about you often and am honored that you read the blog. Stay tuned to the next installment of Bubbe's Food Blogging Chronicles!

  • Sylvia

    Hi Jodi,
    I am a big fan of Besse's – love her dearly. And you have captured her to perfection. She is an amazing, adorable, interesting, loving woman. Since moving from Houston I really miss her. You really brought her home to me! Thank you!
    Hope to meet you some day soon.
    Sylvia Margolis ( friend of Lenny and Paula)

  • Sylvia

    Hi Jodi,
    I am a big fan of Besse's – love her dearly. And you have captured her to perfection. She is an amazing, adorable, interesting, loving woman. Since moving from Houston I really miss her. You really brought her home to me! Thank you!
    Hope to meet you some day soon.
    Sylvia Margolis ( friend of Lenny and Paula)

  • Sylvia

    Hi Jodi,

    I am a big fan of Besse's – love her dearly. And you have captured her to perfection. She is an amazing, adorable, interesting, loving woman. Since moving from Houston I really miss her. You really brought her home to me! Thank you!

    Hope to meet you some day soon.

    Sylvia Margolis ( friend of Lenny and Paula)

  • Bubbe

    jodi–you have made me famous or outragous by putting me in print. Bubbe

  • Paula Holzband

    Jodi, she does love it…….she's got a big smile on her face!

  • Judy Shubb

    We always knew that Bubbe, Aunt Bessie was a character…..She's great and we love her..

  • Teri Wathen

    What a creative blog. Such talent to be able to take “food” and “Bubbe” and put them in the same context. Oy vay, what am I thinking?!! All Bubbe's want us to “lick our plates clean”, don't they? Can't wait to meet you, Jodi! From Teri Wathen (friend of Lenny and Paula's)

  • jodibart

    I know! Don't you just love listening to her. She has the best sense of humor and is a true joy to be around :-)

  • jodibart

    Hi Batya I've heard about you also and hope to meet you soon. Who else do we know in common? If I know Houston, I'd have to guess Liza…am I right?

  • jodibart

    I am so honored and impressed that you commented, Bubbe. I'm still pushing for us to get you a computer so we can e-mail back and forth!

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Teri. I have heard Paula talk about you often and am honored that you read the blog. Stay tuned to the next installment of Bubbe's Food Blogging Chronicles!

  • Sylvia

    Hi Jodi,
    I am a big fan of Besse's – love her dearly. And you have captured her to perfection. She is an amazing, adorable, interesting, loving woman. Since moving from Houston I really miss her. You really brought her home to me! Thank you!
    Hope to meet you some day soon.
    Sylvia Margolis ( friend of Lenny and Paula)

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