|Zeide and me drinking Mate on the back porch|
Today would have been my grandfather's 81st birthday. He passed away October 19, 2011, a few days before my son was born. Pablo Hackman, my Zeide (we called him by the Yiddish word for grandfather), was born in Poland and moved to Argentina as a baby. There he married my grandmother "Lala" and they had two kids before moving the family to New York. I wanted to celebrate his birthday by reminiscing about a typical family gathering.
Our food and get-togethers were very much influenced by Argentine culture. And Argentine culture is influenced by Italian culture. We ate lots of pasta, and said "ciao," and probably did lots of other things I don't realize are more Italian that South American. I grew up in Florida, living near my grandparents and my Aunt Monica's family. We got together often to enjoy asado Argentine barbecue.
We would all meet at Lala and Zeide's house in the afternoon. We might sit outside by the pool, or inside with a soccer game on the TV. At some point, maybe in the afternoon, my grandparents would prepare mate (mah-TAY) for us to share. (I was going to make this whole post about yerba mate, but that will wait for another day.)
|My mate set from my grandparents|
Dinner was a long draw out event. Long before sitting down at the table, Zeide would serve an antipasto. He might bring salami or a block of cheese outside, or to the coffee table, and slice pieces for us. Then Zeide or uncle Danny would begin grilling a large variety of meat - chicken breast, blood sausage, sweet breads... Lala and Aunt Monica would set the table and prepare salad and other dishes while the meat cooked in waves. I remember Zeide giving us little sandwiches while we waited. I think we must have consumed quite a bit of meat and bread before ever sitting down to eat. We ate the grilled meet on thick toasted rolls with chimichuri.
|Pablo (Zeide) & Marta (Lala)'s engagement party, Buenos Aires 1952|
My kids and I Skyped with Zeide as long as he had the strength, but it makes me sad that he didn't get to meet my son. I hope that our family can continue some of the traditions that my grandparents gave to me.