Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Agnes Djaha

Agnes Djaha was a delightful guest. Her story begins when her Dad emigrated to the US from Aleppo, Syria in 1914, then married via an arranged marriage and was the pillar of his Brooklyn community along with his wife. Entertaining family and friends was a central theme and cooking was a constant. There were two dishes that were a constant on the table - stuffed grape leaves and Kibbee. Agnes recounts that Saint days were more important than birthdays. Her most vivid childhood memory was of St. Barbara's Day. Agnes' tales of the wonderful meals and foods served are a testament to a time when community, family and heritage were the glue that kept everything together.

One of my favorite parts of her interview was when she explained how on New Year's Day, they served only "white" food to symbolize the clean slate of the new year. So, as we enter the new year with a clean slate, think about Agnes' wonderful New Year's Day meal.