Going to Hungary for vacation was like stepping into an intermediary world between our gray reality and the colorful one of the Western Europe I would glimpse a couple of years later. While Hungary, like Poland, was under the Soviet influence, it seemed brighter than my native country. Continue reading
The indian summer before I was born was bittersweet. My arrival into the world was greatly anticipated and this was the “sweet” part of the equation. The “bitter” part was more literal, since just a little over a month before I was born, sugar was rationed. What that meant was that you could not simply walk into a supermarket and buy sugar. You had to present a “sugar card” to a sales person and they would give you your monthly ration.
Neither my mom nor I had a big sweet tooth, and we liked drinking our tea or coffee without sugar. And now when sugar is easily available, I don’t use sugar at all these days, just keep some for guests, but often forget to put it out when they don’t remind me. Still, this was the sad turn of events for most people. Continue reading
I never met my great-grandfather—he had died some thirty years before I was born. I have not seen a single picture of him nor have I heard a recording of his voice. His existence, therefore, seems a bit illusionary to me, except that there were a couple of stories circulated by my family, passed around the dinner table, passed down by generations of women: my great grandma, my grandma and aunt, and my mom. Continue reading
I am not the first one to follow the dance of culture and food. Rather, I am following the footsteps of others, mainly food and cultural anthropologists. In their ethnographic account of the contemporary Russia, entitled “Food and everyday life in the postsocialist world,” Melissa L. Caldwell, Elizabeth C. Dunn and Marion Nestle (2009) highlight the symbolism of food and how it related to the succssses and failures of the communist political system. Continue reading
Food and culture are entwined and forever inseparable. They inspire and influence one another in an intricate dance of traditions, policies, folk wisdom, and of course, the dancers, the consumers of culture and food. The dance is incessant and consists of steps: one step forward by the folk wisdom followed by a flip by the government policies, followed by the nod toward traditions. Continue reading