Saturday, March 3, 2012
Phil Levy - 30th July 1935-3rd March 1987
Today is 25 years since my dad died. This weekend's blog is a special tribute him. Although, 25 years later, my memories of him are not as strong as I wish they were, the essence of him still is. He was a man who adored his family. He loved his friends, and loved having them over and playing the host, particularly introducing them to a new wine or whisky that they MUST try.
His parents ran a clothing store on the main road of Lower Hutt, which he later ran. That meant he was pretty available during the day - he dropped me off at school some days, came to school events, and the shop was a place we frequented. As a kid I remember playing there, running through clothes and getting told off. He had a store in Lower Hutt and one in Wainuiomata, which we would go to less frequently, but it was in a mall that had a sweets shop that sold meringues in the shapes of animals, and we were allowed to choose one each time we were there. (And he had a shop assistant called Judy who, according to dad, wore her pyjamas under her floor length skirt on very cold days). There were many stories that dad told that didn't sound likely, but we never knew for sure.
Everyone in Lower Hutt seemed to know him. We'd walk down High St and people would call out "Hi Phil, how's the family?". They'd stop and have a chat for what seemed like an eternity, and when they finally finished and walked away, I'd say "Who was that?" and he'd say "I don't know." Every time I would shriek and ask how he could talk to someone for THAT long about their lives and not know who they were. But he could.
Dad was a great food lover - yes it could be said that he over-indulged at times - and particularly loved all the foods that came out only once a year for Jewish festivals. A special love was his mother's Maztah Balls - these are balls made out of the "large square crackers" called Matzah, that Jews eat at Passover (Pesach). They are VERY yummy in a bowl of chicken soup. As his mother was ageing, she called up my mother (not her own son) to learn how to cook them in case she died sometime soon. Although she frequently considered dying very soon, she was as tough as nails and was a strong presence in our lives. It was the death of my dad, her only son, that proved too much for her, and she passed away four weeks after he did. This recipe, therefore, is a salute to them both - the mother who made the maztah balls, and her son who loved to eat them.
Today, 3rd March, I remember my dad, Phil, with love.
4 sheets Matzah
1 good-sized onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teacup Matzah Meal
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1. Soak matzah, then drain in sieve.
2. Press water out with back of spoon.
3. Leave to dry while frying onion.
4. Take off heat.
5. Add egg, salt & pepper, and ½ tsp nutmeg.
6. Mix well.
7. Add matzah meal until it's the right consistency for rolling.
8. Roll into balls with wet hands and roll balls into matzah meal.
9. Put on flat dish and refrigerate.
10. Later, drop the balls into boiling, salted water until they rise to the top.
11. Do a few (3-4) at a times as to keep the water boiling.
12. As soon as they rise, remove with spoon.
The fabulous photo above was sent in by Raoul Ketko, a lifelong friend of my dad. Raoul said that naturally they had to sample the wine to ensure it would complement the meal properly. Read the comments section below for Raoul's memories of Phil and their friendship.