Mira Klein – December 2014
Miroslava Chajmovicova was born in Presov, Slovakia (then Czechslovakia) in 1954 and grew up in a small town called Hanusovce. Though they lost many family members during World War II, Mira’s parents chose to stay in their small town to be near her grandmother who was too old to pick up and move. Mira learned a lot about cooking at an early age. Her parents managed a small fruit and vegetable store and when their girls were home from school in the summer, Mira’s mom would ask them to prepare certain dishes for lunch to keep them occupied. It was fun, and at the same time a wonderful way to learn how to cook.
While she grew up in a communist country, Mira had a happy childhood and wasn’t aware of what she didn’t have. Sure, there was an occasional shortage of toilet paper, a particular fruit or something they couldn’t get that they saw in a foreign magazine, but they didn’t lack the necessities. One thing they did lack was a sense of community; they were the only Jews in their small town, so as her sisters grew older they headed to a bigger city, Kosice, for more opportunity and a sense of belonging.
When Mira finished college, she followed her sisters and parents to the “big” city. She taught Russian language and geography, both mandatory curricula at the time. When she was 25 Mira met her husband-to-be through her sister, who met him at a wedding and thought they’d be a good fit. They were married six months later and started a family right away. Her daughter Judith was born in 1980 and son Peter six years later. (“Both are wonderful and successful adults now, who love to cook and are proud of their heritage.”)
When her mother passed away in 1989, her dad stayed in Slovakia and his brother moved in with him while Mira and her family moved to New York.
Mira taught ESL for a while but then took a job in the semi-conductor industry. Her husband, an electrical engineer, took a job in another field. Mira cooked for her family daily and continues to cook for her husband every day. She even makes his lunches to take to work. She loves to host family and friends and had 34 people to her house for the Jewish New Year dinner this past September.
Mira says she loves to stay true to traditional cooking which is why she continues to make the dishes she grew up on today. And that’s what we’re serving up for you this month…so please, enjoy!