Generations of Food

By / Photography By Amy Robb | March 25, 2016
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Charlotte Tzabari stands near olive bins at their commercial kitchen
Charlotte Tzabari of Olive My Pickle inherited much more than a name from her husband's family.

It’s impossible to tell you how I got started in the olive and pickle business without telling you about my husband’s grandmother, Safta Ester, who immigrated to Israel from Bulgaria in 1945 at the age of 17 to escape the Holocaust. The daughter of a wealthy textile factory owner, Ester had been raised in a mansion with servants, was highly educated and never knew hunger or hardship. Until she arrived in Israel, where she was encouraged to marry, received an allotment of land for a house and garden and soon had to re-build her life as a homesteader and seamstress.

My husband grew up in Ester’s kitchen. He gathered roses from her garden whose petals were boiled into rose jam. He witnessed the braided and dried garlic and peppers that hung in her windows. Turmeric, cumin, dill and fennel were the scents of her kitchen. His afterschool chores were to pick the cucumbers, carrots, celery and okra that Ester then fermented in salt-water brine.

Long before we began making pickles for a living, this was my husband’s story, and it now has also become part of mine. Thirty years later and an ocean away, we find ourselves at the forefront of a burgeoning consumer interest in fermented, probiotic-rich foods, and a small part of what I feel grateful for every day is our craft. While, technically, I learned it from my husband, we inherited it from Ester. Her legacy has become our livelihood. It sustains us in so many ways, providing what is vitally needed, not only for our customers, but in each and every one of our bellies.

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