A couple of weeks ago I joined my my mother, my brother The Aspiring Vintner and my niece The Aspiring Journalist in a trip to church to bless our baskets of food. It’s one of my favourite Ukrainian traditions. A basket is filled with the food that will be eaten at the Easter breakfast. Paska (the challah-like Easter bread). Meat (ham or garlic sausage). Butter, eggs, horseradish.
Looking down the aisle of the church, lined with dozens and dozens of carefully arranged baskets of food, I could see where it all comes from…
Our almost manic obsession with food. The commitment to its preparation. Food as language, food as epistemology.
Food as sacred text.
Every basket was unique work of domestic art, with its own embroidered towel, handmade Easter eggs, or particular arrangement of food. Some. People. Bring. Everything. said my brother in his usual dry way. I’m. Pretty. Sure. I. Saw. A. Basket. With. Booze. In. It.
We took photos outside the church. My niece wanted to recreate photos we’d taken with our baskets many years ago when she was a kid. I’m. Going. To. Post. The. Pictures. On. Facebook. she said.She’s in her twenties now, struggling to make a life for herself. Wistful, perhaps, for childhood. Knowing her for all these years, seeing her bright intelligence, her love of learning, I wished I could tell her: this is your best moment yet.
We went back to my mother’s house, to eat borscht, and make the cabbage rolls for the over-the-top Easter feast.
The cooking never stops.
Food memorializes each moment, makes sense of of displacement, change, history, and the passing of the years.