Henry Seda
Crisis Cuisine: A Food Memoir on the Pearl of the Antilles
Familial recipe books that are passed down between generations become an artifact of that family’s identity. They are time capsules, and capture the nostalgia of cross-generational communion. I’ve conducted a deeper dive into my heritage as a Cuban-American by collecting and recording cultural, familial recipes that aided in the survival and assimilation of my family whilst escaping Cuba during the Cold War. These recipes, in turn, have become the backbone of not only my cultural identity, but the cultural identity of Cuban-Americans at large. I have collected and assembled this knowledge in what I’ve classified as a “food memoir.” I’ve aimed to create something nostalgic to my family, to create a familial, cultural artifact that I can pass down to my kids, and them to their kids. A book that tells an inclusive story of culture through food, a story that the reader, no matter what background, can relate to and appreciate. This project is centered around mostly my grandmother and I, how her immigration from Cuba to the United States as a refugee impacted her experience with food, cooking it, and how important she felt it was to pass down all this cultural/culinary knowledge onto her kids and then to me, her grandson. Conflict shapes ritual, ritual shapes cultural identity, and cultural identity shapes familial practice.
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