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Additional information about houses and food in Mir

in a letter from Rabbi Theodore Lewis,
as he remembers his student years.

Etka Miranka lived in a one story wooden house. It had wooden floors without carpets or linoleum. She kept it very clean. The house was heated by a tall ceramic oven which reached the ceiling and was so situated that a part of it reached every room to provide it with heat. The stove was fueled with wood. Cooking was also done in this oven. Some homes had a primus stove to augment their cooking.

There was nothing glamorous about Etka's cooking. It was very simple and it was obvious she had not attended any courses to upgrade her ability. Neither did she have any cookbooks. Her method was a little of this and a pinch of that. The results were that her meals adequate and satisfying. In all fairness to Etka, she did her best with what was available.

During the time we studied in the Mir, the Polish Government limited the number of cattle that could be slaughtered according to the Jewish ritual. As a result, meat was expensive and only small portions were served and then only occasionally. Chickens, ducks and geese were available.

The meals that Etka served were very plain but nourishing. For breakfast we invariably had eggs and black bread. The main meal was in the afternoon in which we had a selection from soup ­ vegetable, noodles, barley and groats. On occasion meat or chicken was served. For dessert we had prunes or apple sauce. For supper a selection from fish, herring, cottage cheese, cream cheese, hard cheese was available. Potatoes were plentiful and we had them however they were cooked. As a concession to the auslander we had an occasional treat of fried chips.* Cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, and apples were available in season. As oranges were imported and hence very expensive by local standards, we only had oranges when we were recovering from an illness.

Written January 2000

*Fried chips in Ireland and England is the same as French fries in the US. (rjk)

Updated March 2005


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