Growing Up At Goldies
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” – Oscar Wilde
We all have memories associated with food. Be it cooking, eating or dining around a large family dinner table, food is often associated with happy, festive times and celebrations.
For our parents and those of older generations, their memories of food are often in the kitchen, around a stove or in front of the oven, waiting longingly for the soup to boil or beautiful homemade bread to rise. Granny or ‘bobba’ would move into the spare room a week before to begin the preparations for the huge family meal.
For our generation, our food memories take us into the shopping aisles of supermarkets, pavement cafes or staring lovingly into the fridges at our favourite delis and whole-food markets.
For myself and my sister, our memories begin with unwrapping the plastic off the small ‘bakkies’ of delights from Goldies Kosher Deli, being careful not to spill the vinegary herring or smelly gefilte fish juice all over the kitchen floor. Making sure the roasted meat and fresh salads with the litres of homemade Jewish penicillin (aka chicken soup) are stored safely in the bulging fridge to be warmed up later when the guests arrive.
For a lot of my family, Goldies is where we got our first taste of the working world. Me and my sister, along with my older cousins, Granny Goldie’s grandchildren, have all spent our school holidays working behind the till, waitressing in the diner or baking bagels in the bakery. December holidays would be spent packing biscuits, rolling kichel and helping the old ladies of Sea Point carry their parcels to their cars often several blocks away.
I sat down with my parents, Michael and Carol Wener, to find out a bit more about the good yet often stressful memories they have of keeping Goldies, a thriving family business, going for over two decades!
Tell us the story of the birth of Goldies:
Goldie Wener and Barbara Newman, a once famous caterer and cookbook author in Cape Town, joined forces in the early 90s to start making fresh kosher foods for Pick n Pay out of a small factory in Montague Gardens. There was also a market for traditional eastern-European Jewish delicacies, like sweet and syrupy Teiglach. Granny Goldie would bring out the oldest most traditional recipes that her mother and grandmother taught her to cook. Some things in life are just priceless!
There was also a traditional wood-fired pizza oven in the factory which Michael took an interest in when he fell on hard times. He joined his mom in the business making pizza bases for distribution to the supermarkets. Before Rosh Hashana (New Year celebrations) Michael and the Goldies team, some of whom are still with the business all these years later would work through the night baking, cooking, rolling, slicing and dicing, to fill beautiful gift baskets with festive delights traditionally given as gifts over the Jewish holidays season.
Granny Goldie and the team decided that the time had come to open up a shop, and so the migration to Sea Point began and Goldies as we know it now, was born.
What memories do you both have of food and family?
Bobba Sylvia, Michael’s granny would move into the family home a few days before the festive period to cook everything from scratch. No Woolies or Willoughbys in those days. She would often delve deep into her memory bank to cook recipes traditional to Eastern European Jewish families who migrated to South Africa at the turn of the twentieth century. These recipes form the foundation of the dishes Goldies serves almost every day, memories passed on to Michael and in turn to his team of cooks who have grown old and grown up with the business.
Granny Dora was known for her amazing chicken soup and kneidlach (traditional dumplings) which she took a lot of time, love and care to prepare each time. Her famous, should we call it secret(?) ingredient, however, was cigarette ash, as a smoker she never did anything without a lit cigarette, whose ash often found itself in the warm golden liquid. (DISCLAIMER: this fact has never been proven but it makes for a fun family urban legend, right?)
What are your proudest moments of Goldies?
The shop on Main Road, Sea Point in the last few years has undergone a bit of a facelift. In fact it’s more a revamp than a facelift. The fresh new design has brought with it a brand new team of young bright individuals including a new young family, the Heppels. With their energy and fantastic nature the shop is growing at an alarming pace, with new offerings, new recipes and a new vibe while still keeping the traditions and memories of Granny Goldie and the beautiful years gone by.
Goldies has a proud heritage of trading over 24 years, a HUGE feat for a small family-run business. And there are no plans of slowing down any time soon.
Goldies Kosher Deli is at 174 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town.
Laura Wener is a freelance content producer currently working on the Afternoon Drive show on Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg. She loves good company, great food and a good bottle of chardonnay.