He was a holocaust survivor. He was a husband. He was a father. He was a Zaide. He was our hero. Alex Lebovic, my father-in-law, just recently passed away. No words can really express the emotion we feel as a dear one passes on to the next world. We perhaps handle it with grace, strength, overwhelming sadness, humor, denial, guilt, or perhaps with a degree of stoicism. For me, my face, my actions, my words are mere cover-ups to the way I really feel. My father in law was a lot of things, yet writing them on paper or expressing them verbally seems to diminish everything he was. And because of that, for me, I need to celebrate and honor his memory.
In today’s world, Judaism perhaps is just as much a religion as it is a culture. And food is a huge part of that culture. It is quite unlikely that you would find gefilte fish, schmaltz, cholent, gribenes or even potato kugel, outside the Jewish home. Our many holidays are laden with yummy and traditional foods. Food for my father-in-law, meant being alive. Being a survivor of such notorious concentration camps as, Auschwitz and Dachau where food was scarce, if at all, gave my father-in-law a longing for the dishes he grew up on.
According to Wikipedia, chicken paprikash is a dish of Hungarian origin and one of the most famous Hungarian stews. Chicken paprikash was my father–in-laws favorite meal.
I hadn’t made chicken paprikash in about 6 years being that my daughter is on a gluten free diet and my husband is a vegetarian. Yet, this past Friday night for Shabbat dinner I decided to make it and it was amazing! A one-pot meal from the old country. There is much to remember about my father-in-law, but every once in awhile remembering the food he loved allows us to smile and celebrate his memory.