Before I became an artist, I expressed myself creatively through cooking. My kitchen was my studio, my santoku knife was my paintbrush, and I, as always, danced and listened to music throughout my creative process – my cooking.
When my life took a number of unexpected twists and turns and I needed to start working, I thought I was going to become a chef, to channel my energy into something positive as I went through a number of personal challenges. I also needed to start contributing towards my family financially.
When I was a housewife, I spent most of my days exercising (I am certified in Pilates mat and I used to kickbox like a fiend), visiting a variety of NY’s cultural offerings and museums, doing artworks here and there, volunteering often, and taking an odd food making class here and there to hone my skills. But my real passion as a housewife was my cooking.
Each day, and sometimes twice, I’d prepare a gourmet meal just for fun. I’d cook dinner for 16 people, make my own floral arrangements, and set a magnificent tablescape – on a Tuesday – and I’d have my closest friends and family (and also, sometimes some very, very strange guests and motley crews). Hosting and entertaining – it is what I loved, and for sure one of the things I did best.
I imagine it was also a form of therapy for me – the chop, chop, chop of the knife. My food wasn’t just beautiful, it was also absolutely delicious, and it was all made with LOVE. My home was a revolving door of friends and family coming to eat my food and hang out.
I grew up in a family that was centred around food, across the street from my grandparents (I’m Jewish, so both those things are not surprising). My grandmother, Honey Rackman (may she rest in peace), was a cross between Mother Teresa and Martha Stewart. A saint angel who volunteered her time as a teacher in Brooklyn’s worst neighbourhoods dedicated her life to helping women, yet also created the most beautiful home filled with love, good vibes, beauty, family, and amazing cooking.
Each and every Friday dinner and Saturday lunch, my family would gather in my grandparents’ home for Shabbat meals. The energy in my grandmother’s home could be felt upon walking in the door – a dining room table set to the nines, a kitchen bustling with the female figures in our family and aromas that were wonders to the senses, whilst the men and kids lounged in the living room as we awaited my grandmother’s grand entrance down the stairs.
After singing the Jewish prayers, my family would convene around a long, beautiful wooden table with each setting donning elegant china, 3 crystal glasses, sterling silver cutlery, and enough food to feed an army.
Most importantly, aside from all the details that my grandmother would pour into the execution of such flawless gatherings and cooking that she made seem so effortless, was the LOVE, GRATITUDE, and HOSPITALITY that her spirit permeated to each and every guest that ever sat at her table.
Most of the women in my family have followed in my grandmother’s spirit, my mother, my sister, and myself included, and this section of the blog is written in her honour, Honey Rackman.