Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Comfort Food

Pies filled with meat and memories

I like to cook. Its fun to be in the kitchen and have everyone around laughing, sampling things, fighting, then drinking wine. Its kinda how my family works. Its a lot of hanging out, mixed with a dash of tears, and then smothered with compliments and talk of how cool our family is especially in comparison to others.

Yesterday was kinda a hard day. It was the last day spent in my family's old house. 21 years of laughing, crying, blowing out birthday candles all packed up and put in the back of my father's truck, or worse, the trash. It was so spooky to do the final walk through and see every room so hollow. I remember sharing one room with my sister, the first time I got my own room, the first time Nan's got her own room, the first Christmas with my niece, the day my grandma died. It was all there under that one roof. And there was my father, winded from packing, his gray hair damp with sweat, looking old for the first time.

I've never liked changed. It always bothers me. I'm not someone who adjusts quickly. As I helped my dad get the last bits into the back of his '74 Chevy pickup (primer gray for the last 12 years) I couldn't help feeling nostalgic and melancholy. I know our family will continue to celebrate, tease each other, and make new memories, but I just can't associate a home with it yet. I guess a home can be anywhere you gather with your family and eat yummy food. Reminds me of the first Christmas we spent in Carpinteria.

We moved to Carpinteria because of my fathers new job. His work put our family up in an apartment until we found a house to live in. It was small and cramped especially with seven people. That year I was sick with bronchitis and didn't get to perform in the school Christmas Pageant. We were supposed to sing "Its a Small World" and dress in different traditional outfits from around the world. My mom made me the best traditional Russian dress complete with a flower and ribbon wreath for my hair. I was beyond upset that I missed it. And to make matters worse, we didn't get a Christmas tree that year. I remember crying on the couch wrapped up in a blanket and complaining to my mom. She literally got a bare tree branch from outside, put it in a vase and hung Christmas ornaments on it for me. She also made me a huge bowl of Galushki soup. I had a good Christmas that year.

Before I left my family's house for the last time, I invited my father over for a meal before he hit the road. In effort to supply that same kind of feeling of family and home, I decided to make empanadas. I made everything from scratch. The dough was my mom's recipe and the filling was what my family calls T Gina chicken after my "Tia Gina" on my dad's side. It took close to four hours to make. The empanadas didn't taste like my moms but they were still good. I was sad that my dad wasn't able to come by and try them but I know he would have thought they were great. I will make them again and bring them to him. I will also make a plate for my brother, his wife, and their three children. His kids need to know what empanadas are. Its practically in our DNA.

Home is where your family is. Family is a compilation of traditions. Traditions are food. Enjoy them all while you're able.


  1. Aw Gina, I didn't know you just left the house! And there I am talking about being homesick and stirring up your heart. And the new babies. It will be okay. I know how you feel though, there is that sadness knowing it will never quite be the same.

    Empanadas woohoo! That's amazing!

    So is your place cute?

    It can also be exciting to decorate. Nell is very good at that you know, the decorating :) Btw I can't see your photo.

    Wonderful writing here Gina!!

    1. Thanks Pish. Ugh. It was sad. Like my niece Peyton said, "I wish we could all live in one house so we could see each other all the time."

  2. This made me cry. :( But everything will be OK.

    1. It was just weird sis. I'm still sad.

  3. I have to go in to work for a little bit. But I will call you when I get home. Bring some empenadas to Mama Chris. I'm with Peyton. I want everyone to live in one big house. Or at least on the same street.

  4. Aww this was such a sweet entry =) I'm sorry you are sad face.