The Taste Remembered. On the Extraordinary Testimony of the Women from Terezín
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The article presents an attempt to combine food studies (also termed the anthropology of food) with scholarly reflection regarding memory. The analysis focuses on the book entitled In Memory’s Kitchen. A Legacy from the Women of Terezin [ed. Cara de Silva 2006], containing recipes for Jewish dishes written down by women from the Teresienstadt ghetto. But some dozen recipes that have survived do not make it a cookbook, which is essentially meant to be functional. It is more of a remembrance, a testament, and also a source of knowledge of culture at a given point in time. It is also a testimonial document. Recipes collected by de Silva tell much about their authors. They define their roles as wives and mothers. In addition, the Terezin notes point to a culinary heritage, the religious principles of food preparation and the social and economical conditions that shaped the culinary preferences and the diets of women locked in the ghetto. The article demonstrates that the actions of preparing and consuming food are a constantly repeated practice, which is connected in a network of relationships with other practices. This practice it is anchored in the everyday life, embedded in the family’s biography and fused with childhood memories. Food is presented as a sign of identity, the social bond and the community of family and friends, and also as a gift that serves to uphold these ties.
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