When Yehudit, Edith Gombus’s best friend, fell ill, Edith sent her a note describing what they had imagined they’d eaten.
“We ate everything apart from a little slice of bread, which we saved for you.”
Born in Hungary in 1914, Yehudit immigrated to Amsterdam in 1938 and worked as a nanny for a Jewish family. At the time of the German occupation, she was studying to be a beautician. In this capacity she met the wife of the Hungarian ambassador to the Netherlands, who supplied her with a passport that did not identify her as a Jew. Yehudit became a member of the resistance, distributing forged ration cards and food to Jewish families who were hiding on Dutch farms. Betrayed by a Dutch woman, she was deported in 1944 to Westerbork and on to Ravensbrück, where she was put to work in a Siemens factory. She and her friends wrote “fantasy recipes.” As the war came to a close, Yehudit joined the Bernadotte convoy, and reached Sweden. She died in Israel in 2003.
We had low quality white paper. We took out a large sheet and folded it into small pieces. I brought a thread and a needle and sewed it so that it would not come apart, and we wrote in it. I will never forget how a Dutch woman told me: “I have pear kugel, write it down.” I replied, “I’ve never eaten it, so I don’t long for it.” She insisted, “But it would give me such pleasure to talk about it.” So I did her a favor and noted it down. The objective was to satiate our need for food. If you are hungry you don’t care about anything but food.
One day Yehudit Aufrichtig was ill and missed the distribution of the daily slice of bread.Her friend Edith Gombus brought her the bread along with the following letter.
Dear Julie, I’m very sorry that we didn’t spend the day together in our lovely hall and didn’t have our meals together.
To allow you to get at least some mental pleasure from our meals, I’ll give you the details of the menu.
Breakfast: Karlsbad-style breakfast—eggs, butter, cheese, jam.
Brunch: At 10:00 we had yogurt, langus [a deep-fried yeast pastry], and a radish.
Lunch: potato soup with sour cream and laurel leaves, asparagus in sour cream and bread crumbs. Sunny-side-up egg and beef in tomato sauce with macaroni. Fried apple in vanilla sauce.
Afternoon: chocolate milk with whipped cream and egg bread with almonds and a “hornet’s nest” [a type of cake].
Supper: marrow, fried potatoes with onion, salad with green onion, little cookies and black coffee, fruit.
We gorged ourselves with Klari. We ate everything apart from a little slice of bread, which we saved for you.