By Piya Jacob, SCC Board Secretary
I was recently watching a wonderful show about food and cooking and how we are all tied together by threads that now crisscross all over the world. This particular show focused on the Nigerian people who had come to Texas and put down roots there in the last half century. In the beginning there were few of them and they didn’t have a sense of community. They had not yet created families so they were lonely, too. They lacked the familiar tastes of the homeland they had left behind. But slowly the Nigerian community has grown and thrived. And now the bakeries and small eateries have expanded into good-sized restaurants and grocery stores. There is a joyful sense of belonging to a larger community that all people desire.
Another of the shows I watched was about the Armenian people who have settled in Southern California. When their country was overrun by neighboring nations many of them fled with little more than the clothes on their back. Now over the last decades they have set down roots and feel very much a part of their new homeland. Their children and grandchildren are born here and they feel they belong to this country that they now call home. They have revived the exquisite cuisine of their homeland and proudly share it with others. Watching the younger generations watch and learn from the mothers and grandmothers was just beautiful. True hands-on apprenticeship!
What does every group of people long for and re-create as soon as they can in their new home? THE FOOD OF THEIR ANCESTORS. Yes, nothing brings back a full- throated memory as much as food. We all can picture huge Italian or Jewish families gathered around big tables laden with food. The smells, the flavors, the gossip, the songs and dances, the kisses deposited on the cheeks of the grandparents…all of it brings back a surge of memories that no one wants to lose.
Recreating the dishes that our grandparents taught us, passing the recipes down through the generations is a vital tradition in every culture. As this young nation grows older it brings together the best of the cuisines from around the world. I have found that the shortest bridge for creating harmony and peace between people is to share a good meal together. When you invite people into your home, or you offer to cook for them in their home, you are happily and lovingly sharing a piece of your heritage.
In conclusion, I believe an old Armenian saying sums it up best, “When you eat the fruit don’t forget to thank the person who planted the tree.” You are invited Monday through Friday to share a meal with your fellow Sedonans. We enjoy a few laughs, have lively conversation, and make new friends over the lunch table. Please do call in advance so our chef knows how many people to cook for—928.282.2834. To see menus and our monthly activity calendar visit www.sccsedona.org or drop by the Center at 2615 Melody Lane.