What celebratory foods would you want to eat on your 100th birthday?
For my great-aunt Hilda, the answer was a classic corned beef sandwich (from the Kibitz Room), homemade kugel (her favorite that my mom made) and, of course, a pickle at her 100th birthday party this past weekend.
Delicatessen-type food was a staple in her house growing up in Burlington, N.J. Her father was a tailor and would drive the family to Fabric Row on South Fourth Street in Philadelphia on Sundays to pick up buttons and other supplies. She fondly remembers stopping at the Famous Deli at Fourth and Bainbridge Streets, where her mother would buy kosher deli meats for the week.
"Then, we would either go to a Jewish restaurant where we had steaks on a wooden platter or go to Girard Avenue to get dairy blintzes," she recalls.
As she grew older, her relationships kept her connected to food. She owned and operated a corner store, called Unity Market, on 24th and Cambria Streets with her first husband, Sam, for about 25 years. Her second husband, Jack, was a Philadelphia butcher. I remember Uncle Jack carving our turkey for Thanksgiving every year.
This remarkably kind woman has not only lived for 100 years, but she is still fiercely independent, living by herself in a condo. And she still gets out plenty — she even attended my wedding this past spring — and, of course, looks fabulous for any age.
So, what's her secret? Well, judging by the containers of ice cream in her freezer and the chocolate candy bars in her refrigerator, this lady enjoys plenty of dessert.
I am so inspired by her independence, strength and kindness that I wanted to share this story with all of you!
Happy 100th Birthday, Aunt Hilda!
The Bubbi Project