About the Blog

This blog had its genesis in my discovery that the butcher shop of Siegmund Kornmehl, my great uncle on my mother’s side, had been turned into an art gallery in Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Museum.

I’d known about the Freud connection, vaguely, since I was young. I also knew that my mother had several uncles who were butchers, not just Siegmund Kornmehl. But I had no historical context for those disparate bits of information. Or, to be precise, the historical context I’d always focused on was narrow and extremely unpleasant: The annexation of Austria by the Nazis in 1938 and the consequent dispersion of the family. Many of the eight Kornmehl siblings and their spouses, including my grandparents, met their ends in death camps.

My father also escaped the Holocaust from Vienna and had a similarly fraught history. It was a family tradition to avoid discussing the past.

But suddenly I had a new, more pleasant perspective on my family history — and lots of questions. What was life like for middle-class Jews in fin-de-siècle Vienna, and, specifically, for the family of Freud’s butcher? I’d only thought about the shadow of anti-Semitism that hung over the era.  Now I wanted to know what, exactly, was being overshadowed.

I discovered that my questions fell, roughly, into three main categories: How could I find out more about my relatives (Genealogy)? What was the nature of the Freud connection (Psychology)? What was it like to be a kosher butcher during this period (Meat)?

Come along with me on this journey, and we’ll see what we can find together.

2018 update: I wrote this original description in May 2012, more than five years ago. It’s been a long strange trip, with many discoveries — including the fact that the butcher shop in the Freud Museum was not the kosher one — many digressions, and many overlaps on the three main topics. For example, my most popular post proved to be one about a type of deli meat called rolled beef — which in turn was inspired by the death of a relative I didn’t know I had, Nathan Kornmehl, a butcher in upstate New York

The journey has been interrupted but, two visits to Vienna later, it continues with new insights. Stay tuned…

5 Responses to About

  1. Naomi Litvin says:

    Excited to discover you today on twitter! Happy Purim.
    Naomi Litvin

  2. Vivian Heller says:

    I’m so interested in the work you’re doing. I’m trying to reimagine my family past as well. One of the riddles I’m trying to solve is whether the Realgymnasium that my father was eventually sent to in Leopoldstadt was the only Realgymnasium in that district — in which case it would have been the one on the Kleine Sperlgasse that you mention…

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Thanks, Vivian. If you find out the answer to that question, please write back and let me know. I would be very interested — it’s wonderful to discover all these connections and coincidences.

  3. […] Edie started a new project. After discovering that her great uncle owned a kosher butcher shop in the same building where Sigmund Freud saw patients, she started the blog Freud’s Butcher. […]

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About the Blogger

Edie Jarolim

I was born in Brooklyn, went to Brooklyn College, and earned a Ph.D. in American literature from New York University. My dissertation—about a New York poet—was published in two versions: The Collected Poems of Paul Blackburn and The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn

New York-centrism notwithstanding, I often left the five boroughs for far-flung places, including, on my honeymoon, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Soviet Union. It was not terribly romantic, but this trip and others like it proved an asset in several subsequent jobs: editor for Fodor’s and Frommer’s travel publishers in New York and Rough Guides in London.

In the early 1990s, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I’m now a freelance writer and editor. I authored three travel guides, one dog guide, and, recently, a memoir. My award-winning articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including National Geographic TravelerThe New York Times Book Review, Sunset, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal.

I’m hoping that being a food writer will give me an edge for the Meat section of this blog, and that having been in therapy—practically required when I lived in Manhattan—will help with the Psychology section. I’m not sure about my credentials for Genealogy, though I have as many genes (and jeans) as the next person. (2018 update: The rather unusual name Kornmehl has proved to be a relative magnet…Who knew?)

For more biographical details, see www.ediejarolim.com.

Photo credits: The historical picture of Siegmund Kornmehl’s butcher shop was taken by Edmund Engelman, who photographed Freud’s home and offices in May, 1938, weeks before Freud left Vienna for London. My head shot was taken by my friend Diane J. Schmidt, an award-winning photojournalist and writer.