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Excerpts from Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You

  • Jewish Geography -- this story was first published in October 1998 in Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs.  Here, both the English version and a version in transliterated Yiddish are available in pdf format.
  • Return to Germany -- the story of Sonia’s return to Germany in 1978 to speak about the women’s rights revolution in the US for the then-US Information Agency (USIA), published on the website of The Jewish Writing Project on Jan. 19, 2009. That story is also contained in the anthology, Marking Humanity, Stories Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, edited by Shlomit Kriger (Aug. 23, 2010, pp. 226-234).
  • If You Speak His Language --This piece was published in Tzum Punkt (Nov.-Dec. 1999, Vol. 1, No. 2)  p. 5, the newsletter of Yiddish of Greater Washington.
  • Thai Silk -- This piece was first published in the Common Law Lawyer and then on the websites of whispersmagazine.com, iagora.com, and BankgokAtoZ.com (September 2001).
  • Florida and Beyond -- This excerpt appeared on May 25, 2001, in the Story Lady e-newsletter and on its website, the Jewish Frontier, the Jewish Internet magazine, the Jewish Magazine online, the e-zine, Home-Based Working Moms, and the Writer Online. Terry Boothman, the editor of the Writer Online, had this to say about it in the January 14, 2003, issue that carried the story:

    Everyone's life is interesting, right? Sure. So, everyone should write a memoir, right? Yeah, why not.. And everyone should publish a memoir, right? Good Lord, no. Because not everyone knows how to write a publishable memoir, which means a memoir that lots of other people will enjoy reading. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, published just such a memoir--"Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter." Now, in How I Got My Mink Stole, excerpted from that memoir, you can get a glimpse of exactly how good memoirs are written.

  • Weinberg's Glasses - the story of what happened when Sonia's father found a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Sex Maniac -- the story of the Second Wave of the women's movement and Fuentes' role in it.  
  • Harry Golden and "the Coat" -- Sonia Fuentes sues Harry Golden, published in Jewish Currents, June 16, 1997. 
  • How I Got My Mink Stole -- a lengthy struggle with an unexpected denouement.
  • Eating Out -- published in the April 11, 2001, issue of Writer's Bloc Online, the e-newsletter of the National Writers Union.
  • Graduating With My Class -- Fuentes' desire to graduate with her high school class has a significant consequence.  Published originally in the Catskill/Hudson Jewish Star 6.2 (June 1996) 17.1 and then on Harry Leichter's website.
  • Mother and the Night School -- published in the December 2001, issue of Kolot, A World of Jewish Voices. 
  • Catskills Stories -- Some of Fuentes' stories about her experiences in the Catskill Mountains of New York State may be found at the Museum of Family History.

Buy the Book

cover Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Book Ordering Information

In the United States, EAT FIRST can be ordered in paperback and hardback from amazon.com, bn.com, and xlibris.com.  The book can be ordered from amazon.co.uk in the UK and amazon.ca in Canada. EAT FIRST is also available for Kindle which includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.

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Eat First

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Book Excerpts

FuentesFrom Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes



Eating Out

I love to dine out and do it every chance I get.  I have no doubt it's because my family so rarely ate out.  It was customary for us to eat at home.  My mother didn't seem to mind cooking three meals a day; after all, it was for her family, the focal point of her life.  And my father loved to eat at home.

I can't recall an occasion when my parents and I were invited to dinner at someone's home--other than for simkhes--  celebrations--at the home of my brother and his wife.  In my parents' set, people ate at home.   Once in a while, however, on a rare occasion--a Jewish holiday, a time when we were out of town--the family would eat at a restaurant.  It was always a disaster.

We'd sally forth to the restaurant, but none of us would be happy about it.  My father was unhappy because he didn't like spending money for restaurant food; my mother was unhappy because my father was unhappy; and I was unhappy because we were going to a kosher restaurant, to eat the same food I'd gotten three times a day for every day of my life.  I wanted to taste shrimp, lobster, and Chinese food, but those were not kosher and, therefore, forbidden. "Verem," was the word my mother used derogatorily to refer to shrimp--"worms."  "If I served you something at home that looked like that, you'd never eat it," she'd say.  "But in a restaurant, it's good."

During and after the meal, something always went wrong.  The food didn't taste right.  It wasn't cooked sufficiently.  The bill was too high.  My father would refuse to leave an adequate tip; my mother would be embarrassed and they'd wrangle about it.  I'd want to escape through a hole in the floor.  Or my father would get sick days after the meal and point to the restaurant as the culprit.

On one occasion, in the middle of the dinner, my father developed a nosebleed, and we had to leave our meals half-eaten and rush home so he could lie down.  It only proved what he'd known all along.  It was always a mistake to eat out.

My parents were similarly wary of eating at other people's homes and rarely did so.  As I grew up, however, I would receive dinner invitations from friends from time to time.  Mother, with typical Jewish angst, would say to me, "Eat first--you don't know what they'll give you."  She wanted me to have a complete dinner at home before going out.  She knew all the ingredients she used would be fresh, kosher, and geshmak--tasty.  Who knew what one might get on the outside?

Copyright© 1999 by Sonia Pressman Fuentes



From the April 11, 2001, issue of Writer's Bloc Online, the e-newsletter of the National Writers Union:

We're tremendously pleased and proud this week to feature Sonia Pressman Fuentes in the debut of "IN OUR OWN WORDS," a new column showcasing the work of NWU-DC members. We hope you find this morsel of Sonia's writing as tasty as we do and encourage you to get the whole meal in her book Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter.