Reader Interview: Ilana-Davita

Ilana’s New Kitchen

Welcome Ilana-Davita from France for this week’s reader interview at Cooking Manager.

  1. Name, location, family: Ilana-Davita, France, me and my partner whose grown-up kids have left the house.
  2. What do you remember about family meals when you were growing up? What was your mother’s cooking style? (If she did the cooking of course.)
    My mother loved cooking, she still does, and she was an example to me. Even now whenever she goes to the hairdresser’s she looks at the magazines and copies recipes that she will adapt. She never follows a recipe to the letter. I also love browsing recipes and reading cookery books but am not quite as adventurous. As a child I made cakes. My mother didn’t like baking as much as she enjoyed cooking.
  3. How is your cooking style different from that of your mother?
    I don’t spend as much time in the kitchen; my mom didn’t work. My meals tend to be less elaborate, and my cooking reflects my trips abroad.
  4. How old were you when you started cooking? How did you learn?
    I started by making cakes with a cookery book the next door neighbor had given me. Then when I left home to go to college I gradually started to cook by myself and for guests.
  5. Do you entertain, and in what circumstances? What is the biggest party or meal you have hosted to date?
    I love cooking for Shabbat dinners when I am not too exhausted after a week’s work. However cooking for a crowd scares me and I usually ask for help from other people.
  6. Can you share a typical daily menu? Weekly menu?
    I enjoy curries, maybe because I lived spent one year in England and one in Scotland as a student. Therefore I often make chicken curry for Shabbat. I love salmon in any form. I often make omelets too.
  7. How has your cooking style evolved over the years?
    Since I started keeping kosher I have cut down on meat as it is not very easy to get here. I either order frozen meat or drive to Paris to get fresh meat which I then freeze. With an awkward schedule I have found it difficult to go to Paris for the past two years. I now cook fish more often than I used to and also try to make more homemade soup and cook vegetables more often.
  8. What is your biggest cooking challenge now?
    Right now it is to decide whether I should get an induction cooktop. Otherwise I like to vary what I cook but sometimes I feel stuck with old recipes.
  9. Can you recommend any cookbooks, TV shows or websites that have inspired you? (Besides CM, of course!)
    Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food is a must, particularly for Sephardi recipes. I also often use Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz. I love Mimi’s blog, Israeli Kitchen.
  10. What posts on CM have you enjoyed? Do you have suggestions for future posts?
    My favorite recipe is on your other blog: Chicken with Black Olives and Tomatoes.
  11. Please share a favorite recipe and cooking tip.
    I found this recipe on a blog that is now extinct. It is lovely if you prepare it well in advance and leave the fish to marinate for several hours: Asian Salmon

Ilana-Davita, thank you for sharing and for being part of this site from the beginning.


  1. Thank you Hannah for including me in your series of interviews. it was actually quite useful for me to ponder on my cooking and eating habits.

  2. I-D, my pleasure.

  3. i also like the book of jewish food….

  4. I really like the reader interviews, a very nice feature! The kind of stuff I’d always like to ask people but not exactly an ice breaker, “So, what was your mom’s cooking like?”

    Another vote for Claudia Roden’s book from me – I just took it out from the library. I think I like her description of the Egyptian-Jewish food culture she grew up with, along with the other cultural vignettes, as much as the recipes.

  5. Hi Ilana,
    Glad to know that you enjoy my recipes from Healthy Helpings! Nice to know that my recipes have reached your kitchen in France!
    Norene Gilletz, cookbook author
    Toronto, Canada
    (Healthy Helpings; Norene’s Healthy Kitchen)

  6. Lovely interview!

    “curries” – yum! Interesting that visiting Britain got you to know curries. I suppose it’s because of the immigrants there?

    “ask for help from other people” – smart! I try to get my kids to help, but that doesn’t always work.


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