Kathleen (pictured right) is someone I’ve called a friend for a few years now. Most of our shared time has revolved around food – maybe an occasional conversation about relationships, or art, but mostly food. I’ve held great respect for the ways that she explores her own history and heritage, and how she shares those with her daughter Violet, so I asked Kathleen to participate in a reboot of a project I started several years back, aimed at preserving family traditions through cooking together, across generations. She invited me over to her aunt Ani’s house to make ful, a simple fava bean dish that’s perfect for large gatherings.
“I’m an ad hoc cook,” Ani explained soon after welcoming me into her kitchen. “I put a recipe together for this because people have asked me. I’ve taken it to so many places, and people love it: I’ve taken it to potlucks. I’ve taken it to family holidays. I’ve taken it to my gallery studio for ArtHop. I’ve taken it to graduations…I’ve taken it a lot of places.” I asked Kathleen about the dish. “When I think of ful, I think of a big family gathering, with a table blanketed in food; a harmonious spread of Armenian and middle eastern dishes from that region. I hear a choir of my family’s laughter and chatter that brings the food and event to life.”
“Food is the center of every family event. The dishes we create and share together form a bond between the new and the old worlds – between life here in Fresno, and life in Aintabsi, the Armenian village where we came from (now in modern day Turkey).”