“In traditional Albanian folk beliefs, the Vatër, the home hearth, is a spiritual link between past, present, and future generations of the tribe, linking ancestors to the family today and to descendants tomorrow.” -Wikipedia
The summer after I turned thirteen years old, I spent two weeks staying with my Grandparents in Santa Barbara, California. It was the first time I stayed with them without my parents, and the first time I spent that much time with them.
Out of all the memories I have from that trip, the memories that stick out the most are the ones centered around the kitchen.
I remember fondly how every evening I was there, my Grandmother and I spent a couple of hours going through old copies of Bon Appetit magazine (a cooking magazine) to cut out interesting recipes we found.
Together we cooked various dishes, and she showed me how to make traditional polish stuffed cabbage rolls (galumpkis).
She taught me the importance of writing down recipes on cards to put in either a box or book, so that you can always have it on hand (and be able to take notes on them if you want). She dictated recipes for me to practice and write down, in my bulky 13-year old handwriting.
She’d bring out her recipe box with hand-written recipes and recorded recipes from her Mother and Grandmother for me to place in mine. These recipe cards are some of my most cherished heritage items- her beautiful handwriting and the knowledge that these recipes have been passed down through generations.
Looking back now, I can see clearly that in that summer, the hearth (the computer wants to change that word to ‘heart’- which is perfect) of my Grandmother passed on invaluable knowledge and lessons to me as a young woman.
The kitchen is a place of family memories and knowledge- the realm of the house where tradition is kept alive through the foods and drinks of our heritage.
‘Traditional Grandmother’s cooking’ is touted as the best of the best for a reason-
It’s deep memory and deep time encoded in the foods made by hand by the people we love (or loved). This is the reality of the power of the hearth- as a memory maker and a memory-preserver.
For many people of today’s modern generations, these traditions have ceased to exist.
What has been lost in this culture of food convenience?
What ancestral memories have been forgotten in the age of the microwave, packaged food, and low-grade restaurants?
But here’s the thing: If we currently have little to no food culture within our family or family-system, it doesn’t have to continue to be that way.
We can reclaim the memory-making of tending to the hearth, recording recipes down on note cards, telling stories through the foods we make, and remembering the meals of our loved ones.
What would it be like for us to make this a priority, not for our lives necessarily, but for the lives of our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren?
I personally dream of what it would be like if I received a grimoire of sorts of family recipes spanning across generations?
What sort of amazing ‘family jewels’ could be preserved if the women of the current and last few generations of my family decided to record the recipes their mother and Grandmother’s made?
This is the reality of the power of the hearth- as a memory maker and a memory-preserver.
When we choose to return to the Hearth as women, we’re not only stepping into the role of creating healing foods for the body, but also creating healing memories for our family.
In the fourth week of Kitchen Hearth Heart Heal, we’re diving into this concept even further in the class ‘Cooking With Devotion’.
We’ll be diving into incorporating beauty into your kitchen experience and the notion of ‘continuing traditions’ within the hearth- the keep the heartbeat of our homes alive for generations to come.
All the details and more can be found here:
Let’s keep the memory of our lineage alive through the foods we make and our time tending to our hearth.