I met Gil Hovav at a Jewish Food Media Conference, where he was one of the featured speakers. I was struck by his wide open smile and jovial manner. To listen to Gil speak is to be drawn into his crazy world of family and food and life experience. You can’t help but be captivated. I remember Gil telling us that he wanted to publish his own book because an editor would definitely want to cut his sentences. He wanted to tell his story his way.
Candies from Heaven is a charming compilation of family stories that is like a series of snapshots into Gil’s life and the times in which he grew up. Interwoven with the stories are family recipes that all have special meaning to him. I chose to feature Gil’s Chorva Soup– a sweet and sour Tomato soup enriched with rice (pictured above). Gil tells the reader that, if cooked properly, the long grain rice opens up into the shape of beautiful butterflies. Every story and every recipe gives the reader a distinct image of Gil’s life.
I felt a special identification with Gil in this book because I also was the “short” kid who was always chosen last for the team – or not at all. I remember all too well that feeling of standing and watching the other kids argue about who was going to have to include me. What is so beautiful in Gil’s story is the way he describes his Grandmother, Mooma, and the various ingenious ways she protects him and builds his confidence despite the treatment by other children.
There are so many life lessons in this book. I quote: “You do not eat before the servant has eaten. You do not eat before the poor person and the beggar have eaten. You do not eat before the birds on the balcony have eaten.”
I urge you to buy this book for yourself and as gifts. It is as full of charm, humor, love and humanity as the author himself.