Lili Forberg (42) is a photographer and the first cookbook author. Born in Tel Aviv, she came to Ireland when she was 18. She lives in Dublin with her husband Ian and their son Leon (9).
I was creative – drawing and painting. I was never bored because I always found something to do.
Choose three words to describe yourself.
Shy, busy, friendly.
What was it like growing up in Tel Aviv?
It was wonderful. I went to the beach with my friends every day. I’m an only child. I lived with my mother and my grandma. You are my heroes. I’m not religious, but I grew up Jewish.
Tell us about the culture there.
Food is a big part of Israeli and Jewish culture. The tradition surrounding Passover is all about food [this year it takes place from April 15 to 23]. You invite people over to your house and have a big family dinner. They have a lot of broths and they eat matza – that is unleavened bread. This is to commemorate the Jews who had to flee Egypt.
You’re a photographer first, so why write a family cookbook?
It all started when I was cooking for my son. I wanted to make healthier versions of regular treats. I’m not a chef and I don’t know how to do something complicated. When I was a kid, I used to watch my mother cook. Then I posted some of my recipe videos on Instagram. It started during lockdown. I cooked with my son and tried all the recipes on him.
How is he in the kitchen?
He’s a great little cook and he really enjoys it. He can make scrambled eggs and fried eggs and muffins. He makes us brunch on the weekends.
What drives you?
my son leon He is everything in my life. I want to feel like I’m part of his life and spend as much time with him as possible.
Has motherhood changed you?
Completely. I don’t even know what life was like before motherhood. It made me what I am. I find it very fulfilling. I like to combine that with my job. I’m a photographer, but my Instagram job has a lot to do with motherhood. I started cooking when my son was little to be able to offer quality food.
What made you decide to take in a Ukrainian family?
We have a mother and her two boys (10 and 13) and their dog. They are from Bucha. My grandmother was born in Ukraine and had to flee when she was four years old. She had to flee to Poland and then when she was older she had to flee from the Nazis during World War II. It always got me thinking – what if something was different during WWII, what if people got more help? When this happened I couldn’t do it, especially considering what my grandma and other Jewish people went through.
How’s the family going?
It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. The family is very nice and we get along very well. We cook together and eat each other’s food. The mother has cooked a nice soup. They have a little English and it’s getting better every day. The children are now in my son’s school. They just needed a bit of normality.
You know a little about moving from a young age.
I moved to Germany when I was 10 years old. I could only speak and write Hebrew, so I had to learn everything from scratch. I went to an international school and learned everything in three months. I became fluent. In my class there were people from all over the world.
Tell us about your trip to Ireland.
I absolutely loved it. I met my husband a month after we moved here. He’s Irish. I went to Supermac’s with my best friend and he went there with his boyfriend. My best friend married this friend and they have children. And we are also married and have a child. It was so random.
Why are you a photographer?
I love capturing the best side of people. It gives them so much confidence. Being shy helps me understand others and how they might feel uncomfortable in front of a camera. I used to do a lot of fashion photography, but now it’s more of beauty and celebrity magazines.
Best advice you give?
‘Lili’s Family Favourites’ by Lili Forberg, published by O’Brien Press, €18.99 is available now.
https://www.independent.ie/life/upfront-lili-forberg-on-photography-food-and-hosting-a-ukrainian-family-41556602.html First of all: Lili Forberg about photography, food and hosting a Ukrainian family