I spent the weekend at my college reunion catching up with folks I haven't seen in years. I found myself stumbling over my words as I told friends who remember me as a beer swilling English major that I was writing an Afghan food blog. It sounded so obscure coming out of my mouth. I can understand the quizzical looks; I’m truly the least exotic person I know.
But then again, why not Afghan food? After all Julia Child wasn’t exactly French, nor is Paula Wolfert Turkish. They were captivated by the food, and so am I. But it goes beyond that. I’m also touched by the Afghan cooks themselves; the immigrant women who fled their country in the 1970s and took nothing with them: not their recipe books, beloved clay cooking vessels, or teapots.
Take for example Jeja, Humaira’s mom. She lived a privileged life by Afghan standards. She had servants to shop and cook for her family, rarely setting foot in the kitchen. That all went away when she walked across the Afghan border into Pakistan, ultimately arriving in the U.S. with no English and no cooking skills.
Over the past 30 years Jeja has found her way in the kitchen, relying solely on memory to recreate the dishes of her homeland. She is a wonderful and generous cook, but writes nothing down, which is, in large part why Humaira and I started this blog in the first place. So the hard work of Jeja, and other immigrant women like her, can find a permanent home.
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