Family Food by Wendy Hoffman

Family Food

For fifty years now, I sprinkle the Hungarian sweet paprika onto the cooled sautéed onions and stir in bits of ice.

Mrs. Mathies, who helped my mother clean, had dictated this recipe. She bought her paprika at Paprika Weiss on the east side. It’s all in the spice.

The shop went out of business decades ago.

As newlyweds, my sister and I cooked this dish for our philosopher-husbands—a coincidence. Mother said they became philosophers because they couldn’t win arguments with their parents.

Sisters sharing recipes for beef, chicken, taste, divorce.

We baked from Grandma’s recipe for lemon cake. Mother called it Grandmomela cake.

Sisters sharing histories, genes.

No one else comes so close, like skin, and then it’s gone
like the only store that grinds and sells the authentic.


Wendy Hoffman has published three memoirs, Enslaved Queen, White Witch in a Black Robe and in 2020, A Brain of My Own. A German translation of Enslaved Queen is forthcoming. Her book of poetry, Forceps, was also published along with a co-authored book of essays, From the Trenches, written with Alison Miller.