Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Everlasting Vegetable

Over the last year, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about food and meaning making. Extending beyond the sensory experiences of smell and taste, food roots itself within certain emotions, memories and places. Looking inward, I didn’t have to dig very deep to find these memories in my own life and while I rarely ended up in the same place, I often found myself in my grandmother’s kitchen. By most accounts, she was the typical Jewish grandmother—loving, warm and impossible to say no to when it came to food. Thinking back on my own relationship with her, it is not so much her cooking that feeds my memory of her, but rather, something entirely inedible—a silver bowl of paper mache vegetables. Food possessed a powerful presence in my grandmother’s kitchen and it was always around—even if you couldn’t eat it. Since her passing, over a year has come and gone and while pictures have been rehung and furniture moved, those vegetables have remained in their proper place on her dining room table. A symbol of all that nourishes and sustains, those shellacked squash and radishes epitomize stability and permanence, harboring a kind of permanent love that continues to fill her kitchen and my memory.

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