Last month we went to Philadelphia for a family wedding. It was not only great to be there for Beth and Zach, but it was also a reunion of the remaining first cousins of the Graf family. There were six of us present (including myself and my sister) and after the wedding weekend, five of the six, along with our spouses and four extended family members, drove up to Skytop Lodge in the Poconos. The fourteen of us gathered for each meal, but during the rest of the day we would split into smaller groups, though these outings were short lived because none of us wanted to be apart for too long. The six cousins are spread among six states and given that we had started planning this reunion eight years ago, we didn’t take our time together for granted. At breakfast on our last day, you could feel that we were sad to say goodbye. There were toasts and speeches, and then the lovely Michel and Danielle Leib, related to my cousins through their mother’s side, suggested that the next Graf family reunion take place in their hometown of Avignon, France in 2020. An appropriate choice as our parents, Hersh (Harry), Yankel (Jack), and Chiel (Charlie), all moved to France from Poland, and four of the six cousins were born there.
I am sure that our father’s would have loved doing something like this. When they did get together, it was not so different. They ate, they drank, they took shpatzirs (strolls) and they talked about politics which inevitably led to arguments. Not that much has changed. I feel blessed that we had this time together, and as the French cousins would say, a bientot, till we meet again.
My Mom used to make a version of this soup. I called my sister to consult and, as usual, we remember it differently. She thought my Mom thickened it, I don’t remember that. Anita said my Mom included raisins which I chose to leave out and can’t imagine my Mom using. In any case, that’s part of being with family, we all experienced not only our own parents differently, but our uncles as well. Like this soup, our collective memories are sweet, but also peppered with the sadder stories of these three men who survived the war. May their memories be for a blessing. G’mar Hatimah Tovah.
Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup
8 cups water
2 onions, diced
4 carrots, cut into coins
1 – 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 1/4 pounds cabbage, shredded ( I used 2 – 10 oz pre-shredded bags)
2 Tsp salt
5 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tsp ground pepper
2 Tsp Osem chicken bouillian
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
Bring water to a boil. Remove tomatoes from can, coarsley chop and add to water along with whatever sauce is in can. Add remaining ingredients and once it is boiling, slow to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes. You can serve as is, or add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.