Friday, 22 May 2015

Beloved Baba Dora...my other Matriarch

Baba Dora
If you follow MMT on Facebook, you would often read about "Baba Dora Salad".  It rounds out our dinner menu most evenings, as it is a simple tossed green salad that is flavourful and goes with virtually every dish.

I just realized that I have never really told you about my Baba Dora.  I searched this blog, and there are many references to the Baba Dora salad, and tidbits about her, but I have yet to give you a proper introduction to my other Matriarch - shame on me!


Baba Dora with Zada David and my cousin Lauren
Baba Dora is my father's mother.  She lived in Toronto, and we spent a great deal of time with her in our earlier years.  She was born is a Ukrainian Shtetl in Russia in 1989 in Pervomaysk (Bogopol).  Her father (Zaida Menachem Nachum) was the Rebbe of their village. Together with his wife, Batsheva, they had a large family of 9 children, and I imagine they lived similarly to how Tevye and his family did in the film Fiddler on the Roof.  They were hard-working, observant Jews living under the Czarist regime, with little money, opportunity or personal security.  


Baba Dora at my Bat Mitzvah - October 1980
Baba would recount the story of the 1905 pogrom, where she, along with the rest of her (Jewish) community, literally ran and hid for their lives.  Baba, a young girl at the time, managed to hide under a porch, where an old man was sitting in a rocking chair, too old to move and run for cover.  As she hid, the Cossacks rode by...the old man was murdered as she hid below.  The horror of that experience, and the many others that she and her family endured were the driving force behind their determination to make a new life in Canada.  

Despite growing up in this very traditional old world my Baba was a progressive, modern woman.  She went to university and medical school in the early 1900s - no small feat for a woman, let alone a Jewish woman in Czarist Russia.  She also resisted arranged marriage, which was standard at that time, and chose to marry my grandfather, David, a man she loved and respected.   

Baba Dora worked hard long days raising a family, keeping a home and running a small business alongside her husband.  She was a resilient woman who never complained and did what had to be done, no questions asked.


Baba Dora and me at her apartment, 1976
When I was born there was an instant connection...one that remains strong to this day.  She was my biggest fan and strongest supporter, encouraging and adoring me, but never allowing me to indulge in self-pity, even on the bumpiest roads of my journey.


Baba Dora never drove.  She would take buses and subways to get where she needed to go.  She carried mason jars filled with steaming hot homemade chicken soup and lokshen (egg noodles), wrapped in towels to keep it piping hot, so that her Nomika (me) would have food she liked to eat during  hospital stays following surgeries.  That's just the kind of person she was.


Octboer 1980 - My Bat Mitzvah
There are many stories I could share with you about my beloved Baba Dora...she was so kind, loving, calm and very wise.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and smile.  One of my favourite memories is of how happy she was at my Bat Mitzvah.  She was smiling from ear to ear.  Years later I would learn that she told my father that for her, this night was like my wedding (which she knew she would never live to see).  And she celebrated, with me and for me.  

So from my family to yours, I share with you a simple but delicious recipe that evokes many a treasured memory -  Baba Dora Salad.  

Until next time,  I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!



Baba Dora Salad:
lettuce - cut/shredded into bite-size pieces 
cucumber - diced into large pieces
tomato - diced into large peices
carrots - diced
celery - diced

Baba Dora Salad Dressing:
¼C oil
slightly less than ¼C white vinegar 
salt  to taste 


Toss salad, mix dressing and serve right away.