Food, language and memories in Mario Levi’s “Size Pandispanya Yaptım”

Mario Levi Size Pandispanya Yaptim TGV
© Mine Krause

As the photo shows, Mario Levi‘s most recent novel likes to travel around the world. It came all the way from Marmaris to my hometown in Germany and followed me back from there to Paris. I have been reading it on park benches in the autumn sun, on buses, trains, the subway, in a university library, train stations, while eating, drinking, walking… The story was so captivating I couldn’t let go of it.

It is simply delicious to read this book, not only because the author shares wonderful recipes with us that we want to cook right away. He also provides us with memories of another time, another country and another language called Ladino, all of which come to life with his characters. Rahel, Lea, Rozi and many others take us into their world of joy and sorrow, sometimes make us sense their nostalgia for the past and also remember our own. Mario Levi shows how the smell of a certain dish can already trigger emotions from days we thought long forgotten. There is a taste of sadness to this book that accompanies us even days after we have finished the last pages.

Mario Levi Size Pandispanya Yaptim
© Mine Krause

Maybe one of the secrets of this beautifully woven novel is that the author makes us feel like a part of the story, as if we were performing on the scene of a play with the other characters. Our possible thoughts and reactions are somehow integrated into the ongoing events. We are invited to watch Rahel cook and later sit down at her dinner table where ideas are exchanged. A colourful mixture of the author’s personal experiences and his imagination is presented on a silver plate. This book is a treasure full of traditions. In many ways, it is also a love story. While reading it, we find our way back to our childhood days and start to reinvent our own identity. Probably, this is the author’s most generous gift to his readers. Together with his grandmother’s unique recipes, of course.

Paris, 08.11.2013                        Mine Krause


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