I was at my aunty’s house the other night, saying good bye to my cousins before I leave for the UK and enjoying some old movies we used to watch together as kids. VC and I were lucky enough to join my Aunty S and her daughters for dinner that night. Lucky because my Aunty is a survivor of cancer and is still receiving regular treatments to keep her well. Lucky because she was kind enough to accomodate us for a meal when she might not have been feeling like it.
Lucky, because she is a wonderful cook. A cook that has learnt the secrets of her ancestors and brings those secrets to life with each and every meal she makes. Everything from her layered wafer cake, to her salads, or even a simple broth are always so comforting to eat, they remind me of my childhood and my heritage. It got me thinking how family histories can be traced through food. Chances are the chicken soup and paprika I ate with my cousins that night was the very same kind of meal my grandmother and great grandmother had eaten in the years before we were even alive, before there were cars and TV. When mothers were cooking on little wood fired stoves that you can find in the komins that still remain in many houses in the village (of Blato, Korcula).
Funny little techniques and ways of doing are passed down throughout the generations, from grandmother and mother to daughters and sons, from cook to cook. My mum cuts her beans in a certain way. She does it because that’s the way her mum did it. Sort of like the way she folds her towels, which is now the way I fold my towels. I make my spaghetti the way my mum does, because it was her that taught me how. And my great- great- grandchildren will probably eating the same spaghetti and apple cake and chicken & rice that I ate as a child.
Once I made mum a cook book that contained all of the recipes we ate as a family. Not because she needed the recipes – she knew them all, off by heart. I made it to record the food history of our family. The recipes and meals we have shared over the years, the cakes and sweet treats we have indulged in at Christmas and birthdays. Food is one of the most wonderful ways that we can pass down through the generations a taste of who we are, were and always will be.