Weekly Interview: Mimi

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Israeli Kitchen is one of my favorite food blogs and several of Mimi’s recipes have become classics here. It is therefore a pleasure to welcome her contribution to my weekly interview. Thank you Mimi and may you continue to be an inspiration for all the cooks on the blogosphere.

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

I’m Miriam Kresh. Originally American, I’ve lived in the U.S., Brazil, Venezuela, and for the past many years, in Israel. I’m 55, married with three adult children and one teenager still at home. I’m a food writer and food blogger.

What is your religious background (if any)?

I grew up with a strong Jewish identity, but my parents didn’t become 100% observant till the children were already almost grown up. I suppose it’s what’s called the “Conservadox” way. I made the life decision to become fully observant at age 22. Having gone through a very long chareidi phase, my husband and I know consider ourselves part of the more open “dati leumi” community.

When and why did you decide to make aliyah?

I made Aliyah when I committed myself to Torah observance. There was plenty of Zionist idealism too. I was living in Venezuela at the time, and while the communities there are lovely, I felt the need to live in an entirely Jewish society, breathe the air of the land promised to me.

Where in Israel do you live and is there a special reason you live there?

Presently I live in Petach Tikvah, a medium-sized city in central Israel with a large hi-tech and industrial section, 3 major hospitals, a permanent open-air market, nice neighborhoods, and many excellent schools. Why did we move here…? For none of the above. My husband, toddler and I were living happily in rustic, mystical Tsfat (Safed), in the Western Galillee. Long ago we’d promised my parents, who lived in Petach Tikvah, that we would take care of them when the time came. The time came – my late father had more and more frequent medical crises – so we moved here.

It was a wrench. We loved, and still love, Tsfat. But Petach Tikvah has been good to us. Our daughter’s doing well in a good school, our work is here, and medical care is outstanding. The last is important because my husband has important health concerns. My Dad passed away and my mother has moved back to the States, but all we did was move to a more religious neighborhood, still here in P.T. I do dream of moving back to Tsfat some day.

When and why did you start blogging?

It’ll be two years ago, come August. I was bored and felt hemmed in. My hand-crafted soap business had failed in the depression following 9/11, and I hadn’t found a new interest. Most of my time and energy were devoted to taking care of my widowed Mom. I’ve always written – all my family writes, or work with words one way or another. So when two friends and my children encouraged me to start a blog, it seemed an easy and natural way to keep writing without any great commitment.

Have you been surprised by the way your blogging activity has evolved over the years?

Yes, happily surprised. I’ve come a long way as a writer because I feel challenged to improve. My library is enriched with books on writing and cooking, and on food writing specifically. My inner life is enriched with the input from my readers and friendships I’ve formed through the blog. From starting as a creative outlet, my blog has evolved into an organic part of my life. In addition, it’s spun off into paid writing work for several different organizations. And – it has become a commitment in itself.

To what extent do you feel your blogging activity reflects on the global perception of Israel?

Any Israeli blogger represents Israel in the eyes of the world – willy-nilly. I’m conscious of this at all times. I try to represent the wonderful facets of living here, and stay firmly out of any political or religious discussion.

Israeli Kitchen is about food and food culture. If I ever get het up enough, I’ll start a freer blog where I speak my mind about everything else. There has been one exception: after the Mumbai massacre, I posted a photo of a memorial candle to honor the murdered innocents. I couldn’t not.

What post(s) are you most proud of?

The posts about my wanderings through open-air markets.

Would you care to share a blog or two you enjoy?

Yes! Foodbridge, Baroness Tapuzina, and The Old Foodie.

Thank you, Ilana-Davita, I’ve enjoyed answering these questions.

Last week’s interview