Bernice Notrica was born in Hollywood, California in 1931. Her parents and grandparents had moved here from the island of Rhodes in the early 1900’s. Bernice descends from the Sephardi families who fled Spain at the time of the inquisition in 1492 (Sephardi is the Hebrew name for Jews who originated from Spain). Her ancestors settled on the island of Rhodes, then an Ottoman (Turkish) possession, later Italian, and today Greek. They spoke a language called Ladino (old Castilian Spanish interspersed with Hebrew and words from other languages), and many still speak it today.
In 1951, a man by the name of Lou Menashe came down to California to visit some relatives. He was set up on a blind date with Bernice (then twenty years old) on a Thursday and they were married (traditional wedding and all) within a week. Together they have four children and nine grandchildren, and are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.
Bernice contends that Lou’s family has the more interesting story – seven brothers with the last name Menashe moved to Portland from Rhodes in the early 1900’s They were very active and contributed a lot to the Portland community, and had many children to carry on their name. That’s why most of the Menashes in Portland are related in one way or another.
Bernice loves to cook the food of her heritage. Making these foods is almost therapeutic, and it brings back many good memories for her. She is very proud of her roots and eagerly shares her recipes and techniques with her children, to ensure that her family’s traditions live on.
Comé con Gana!
Trio of Salads:
finely diced cucumber, tomato, green onion & green pepper tossed in a lemon vinaigrette
assorted roast peppers tossed with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice
with garlic, parsley & lemon
Quajado De Espinaca – Spinach Bake
fresh spinach baked with cheese & eggs, served with turkish salad
Yaprákis – Stuffed Grape Leaves
filled with ground beef, rice, lemon & parsley, slow-cooked with white beans & lemon, served with arróz kon tomát (tomato rice pilaf)
Peskádo Kon Sálsa de Tomát
fresh fish of the day cooked with tomatoes, lemon & parsley, served with rice & quajado de espinaca
flaky pastry filled with walnuts & cinnamon, drizzled with a not-too-sweet syrup