Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Chocolate Lady’s Shabes Mates (abundant zucchini) Survival Guide 2005 In Memory of Rae Dalven z”l

My friend Rae Dalven of blessed memory has been much on my mind of late. Rae Dalven was a professor of English at Ladycliff College and the editor of The Sephardic Scholar. She was also a poet, a playwright, a historian, and most notably, a translator of poetry. You may have heard her translation of Constantine Cavafy’s "Ithaca" on National Public Radio. She also wrote thoughtfully about the art and science of translation. I recall that she read aloud once an essay in which she wrote about regretting that she had once rendered “xanthan” into English as “xanthan” because the word “blond” connoted to her only dyed blond. “I should have just said ‘yellow-haired,’” she said, “or even ‘blond’” (You think I must have been much too young to remember this, but I am almost sure I have that quoted correctly).

Rae Dalven was born in Greece in 1904 and grew up in a very conservative traditional Romaniote community in Ioannina (Yanina, Janina). She married within this community, but her marriage ended because her scholarly pursuits were in conflict with her husband's weltanschauung. She reported that he said to her "When I come home, I don't want to see you with a book in your hands." (My Venerable Mother and I found that we are both reminded of this story whenever we come across the famous quote from Samuel Johnson that “A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek” because, you know, they actually w e r e talking Greek while having exactly this argument, or maybe Judeo-Greek).

Rae has been much in my mind of late because I suddenly remember the zucchini dish she used to prepare. It was made with lots of zucchini, and just a few eggs, a bunch of dill, salt to taste and I think that’s all. Oh, and cheese, but you may leave that out. It was very fresh and cooling and summery. It is perfect for this time of year. I don't have her original recipe on hand, but there is a very similar recipe in the Cookbook of the Jews of Greece by Nicholas Stavrolakis that helped to jog my memory.

Romaniote Zucchini

2 pounds zucchini (grated)
4 eggs
1 pound ricotta
some parmesan

1 small bunch of dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

place the grated zucchini in a collander and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Line a strainer with a paper towel or cheesecloth and drain the ricotta. Allow the zucchini and ricotta a little time to exude their excess moisture while you prepare the pan, chop the dill, and heat the oven. Combine the ingredients, and pour into an oiled baking pan. Bake in a moderate oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
All the quantities are approximate; this is a very forgiving recipe. Stavrolakis uses a cup of parmesan and no ricotta. If you do this, do not add salt.

My Community Supported Agriculture collective has been uncommonly generous with fresh zucchini this year. Usually I just grill the slices, and let them marinate with a little balsamic vinegar.

My cherished Clotilde has recipes for zucchini stuffed with quinoa, and the polenta zucchini tart. Click on “veggies glorious veggies”

I've never made zucchini bread. It seems to me that would be admitting defeat.

Here is “Ithaca


C.P. Cavafy

translated from modern Greek by Rae Dalven

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.
Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.
Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

Here is a partial bibliography of Dalvenalia:

American Society of Sephardic Studies., and Yeshiva University. Sephardic Studies Program. "American Society of Sephardic Studies Series." New York City: Sephardic Studies Program, Yeshiva University.

———. "The Sephardic Scholar : Journal of the American Society of Sephardic Studies." v. New York City, N.Y.: Sephardic Studies Program, Yeshiva University, 1973.

Cavafy, Constantine, and Rae Dalven. The Complete Poems of C. P. Cavafy. London,: Chatto & Windus, 1968.

———. The Complete Poems of Cavafy. Expanded ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.

Dalven, Rae. Modern Greek Poetry. New York,: Gaer Associates, 1949.

———. Hercules : An Original Radio Script. [Nashville, Tenn.: Tennessee A. & I. Univ. ; National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts], 1952.

———. "The Concepts of Greek Tragedy in the Major Plays of Eugene O'neill." microform /, New York University School of Education, 1961.

———. Modern Greek Poetry. 2d ed. New York,: Russell & Russell, 1971.

———. Anna Comnena. New York,: Twayne Publishers, 1972.

Dalven, Rachel. "The Betrothal and Marriage Customs of the Ioannina Jews." Sephardic Scholar 3 (1973): 41-61.

Dalven, Rachel. "The Yearly Cycle of the Ioannina Jews." Conservative Judaism 28, no. 2 (1974): 47-53.

Dalven, Rae. "(Ten Poems)." Noiseless Spider Greek Issue (1974): 7-15.

———. "Mortal Victory." Hellenic Times, 21 November, 1974 1974, 2.

Dalven, Rachel. "The Names of the Jannina Jews." Sephardic Scholar 3 (1977): 9-23.

———. "Some Modern Greek Proverbs - Judaic or Classic in Origin?" Sephardic Scholar 4 (1982): 65-83.

———. "Three Traditional Judeo-Greek Hymns and Their Tunes." Sephardic Scholar 4 (1982): 84-101.

———. "The Yearly Cycle of the Ioannina Jews." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 2 (1987): 87-103.

Dalven, Rae. The Jews of Ioannina. Philadelphia, Pa.: Cadmus Press, 1990.

———. "An Unsought for Calling: My Life as a Translator from the Modern Greek." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 8, no. 2 (1990): 307-15.

———. Daughters of Sappho : Contemporary Greek Women Poets. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994.

Eliyia, Joseph, and Rae Dalven. Poems by Joseph Eliyia. New York,: Anatolia press, 1944.

Humphreys, Henry Sigurd. The Ballad of Andrew; Op. 64. [n.p.,.

Laughlin, James. New Directions in Prose and Poetry. Vol. 23. New York: New Directions, 1971.

Papageots, George, and Rae Dalven. The Story of Modern Greek Literature. New York: Athens Printing, 1972.

Ritsos, Giannåes, and Rae Dalven. The Fourth Dimension : Selected Poems of Yannis Ritsos. Boston: D. R. Godine, 1977.

Schat, Peter, Leonard Bernstein, Constantine Cavafy, and Rae Dalven. For Lenny, at 70 : Opus 35, a Song for Tenor and Piano, 1988. Amsterdam: Donemus, 1991.


What is Romaniote?

The word Romaniote refers to the Yavanic, or Judeo-Greek-speaking Jews of Greece. The majority of the Jews from Greece are of Sephardic ancestry, descended from Jews who settled in Greece after fleeing the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, but Greece also had an older community dating back nearly 2500 years. The Romaniote Jews have a language analogous to Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish, written with Hebrew characters, and incorporating components from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic with influence from Judeo-Spanish. The community was almost completely destroyed in the Holocaust. No fully competent speakers of the language are known to survive.

What are Zucchini?

These are the vegetables called “courgettes” in the UK.

Blah Blah Blah

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by The Chocolate Lady.

Questions? Comments? ASK THE CHOCOLATE LADY!



Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

Thank you so much, Gorgeous! I don't know what "buzz up pls" means, though.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too once considered zucchini bread a defeat. However, a few weeks ago, prompted by the usual turn of events (my wonderful new nextdoor neighbor, in welcoming us to the neighborhood, gave us two HUGE zucchinis), I was forced to do something drastic rather than see them go bad. That meant zucchini bread. As luck would have it, I didn't have raisins so I used what came to hand, which was dried blueberries; and I only have one loaf pan (I myself cannot explain this, but it appears to be true) while the recipe calls for two, so used muffin tins instead. Then I forgot to chop the nuts and just used walnut halves instead. The result was a pleasant surprise, much better than you'd think. Here is the new adapted recipe:
Zucchini muffins
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift together:
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
0.5 tsp. salt
2 cups grated zucchini
In a separate bowl, beat:
3 eggs
then add:
1 cup oil
1.25 cups sugar
Mix egg mixture into flour/zucchini mixture until just mixed. I find a regular table knife with a wide blade works very well for this.
Add in:
0.5 cups dried blueberries
2 tsp. vanilla
again mixing as little as possible.
Pour into greased (or ungreased silicone) muffin tins--about 12 to 14 muffins.
Press in to each muffin:
2 walnut halves, making sure the batter just covers the walnut.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Test by simply pressing the top of a muffin firmly and seeing if it springs back. When it springs back into shape, you're all set.

8:08 PM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

Thank you, Nomi.

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful to see rae Dalven so lovingly and appropriately memorialized. And what a glorious poem (and translation)!

As for the copnversation about "xanthan," I'm here to vouch that your memory of it is word-perfect, because I was there too, and i remember it too. All honor to her memory!

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently showed my son my copy of Dr. Dalven's translation of Cavafy's poems which she inscribed for me when I was her student at Ladycliff College. She was quite marvelous.

11:55 AM  

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