When I think of family yea I think of love and time spent together but what really comes to mind is food. Bar-b-ques, potlucks, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, weddings and even funerals all had one feature that I knew I could look forward to, food! And ohhh that food was delicious. When we look at culture and what brings us together food is generally at the top of the list. What we eat not only speaks to preferences but geography, class, economy, and belief systems. Family recipes and traditions can provide a lens into our past as well as our future in a way that we may find easier to connect with than the actual people who make up our families.
As a black woman in America though I understand how difficult it may be to find that connection to one’s ancestors. Not only do we not have an extensive genealogy within my personal family due to lack of accurate record keeping because of slavery but as with any family there are also unsavory characters that are sometimes best to not connect with. For some of you that may be the case. For others you may just not know who you are related to for a number of reasons. There is much that is passed down to us through our ancestors. Generations of traits and experiences that we are proud of but can also bring joy, pain, and strife. Family though is not only through biological transference but energetic as well. Thus the importance of the experiences and beliefs that we gain from those around us. This is why food can act as a bridge to our past as it exist even when the people, land, and traditions no longer do.
So here is your exercise for to connect with your ancestors through what and how you eat.
- Find a family member or someone who acted as family although perhaps not by blood and ask them what was one of your ancestors favorite foods/meals?
- Go through old recipe boxes or books passed in your family
- Research your roots as best you can to connect with the cultures which your family has been a part of. Find recipes or food associated with them. Be mindful of approaching this as you want to be respectful of other cultures if you have not been an active member of them regardless if that is your heritage.
- Use your own knowledge and memories of food that you enjoyed eating to create new recipes and traditions.
Once you’ve gotten this information make the meal, recipe, or consume those foods. While doing so, make a statement or set an intent that you are preparing and eating this food for the purpose of connecting with your family and ancestors. Throughout the process of preparing and consuming the food, imagine what it would have been like for your family member or those within your culture to have been having this dish. Try to embody them during this moment. Give thanks for any guidance or wisdom that you receive or that has ever been passed on to you. Give thanks for all that you are thankful for. Conclude this exercise as you see fit.
Here’s to yummy food and family.