By the time I was born, my grandfather Selim, my grandmother’s partner in their home catering business, had died. Her brother Joe Cohen lived with them from the time they arrived on America’s shores, hoping for a better life. Joe, along with Seluma Menegad, lived with my grandmother on 63rd Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, just off 21st Ave. Joe and Seluma helped my grandmother with the cooking, handling customers, and managing the supplies. In the basement of the house, were rows and rows of barrels filled with Syrian pickles, imported spices and grains. The aroma aroused our senses. The basement was Seluma’s turf. He weighed sesame seeds and bulghur or whatever the customers purchased, charging them appropriately. As a child, I watched the people stream in and out of that backyard and down into the basement with constant wonder. During those visits, I unknowingly absorbed cooking techniques, applied after I married, when I began to cook by myself. Everything was centered around the food, those Middle East delicacies that my grandmother so lovingly prepared – foods that I would add my own touch to over time.