Amanda Koster

thoughts and experiences of an international documentarian

ahh… ancestory

with one comment

sunday night. i love sunday night. this is when i cook. i love to cook and on Sundays i cook for the week. Sunday nights are reserved for cleaning, cooking, reading, home time. one i am done cooking i use as little electricity as possible and light candles. total relaxation.

this sunday i am making broth. reminds me of mom, grandmother, grandfather, roots. my (maternal) grandparents are/were eastern European: grandmother was polish, grandfather romanian. with this, i feel soooo happy and grounded when making any kind of thro-together stew or peasant food. today is broth to use with nearly anything. it’s so amazing to think about ancestry and how that can create our center, grounded-ness, creature comforts.

went to the dentist Friday to get my teeth cleaned. “dananish?” i said to the hygienist. i knew she was Ethiopian. once i’ve been to a country i can see it in it’s people. dananish (totally phonetic) means something like ‘how are you’ in amharic (ethiopian language), to females. ‘denana’ to males. (learn more:

her face lit up. hardly any white people, i have heard, speak a work of amharic much less try it out. well, i know about 8 words, and say them when i spot an ethiopan.

we got to talking about teeth. i asked her about Ethiopia, what is oral hygiene like back there. i told her i remembered (like in india) people brushing their teeth with a stick, the whitest, strongest teeth i had ever seen. she told me about her grandmother, totally uneducated but a mother of many, always told her to stay away from candy and sugar, brush (with the stick) after every meal, and watch out for spreading bacteria. my hygeist also told me about a certain plant everyone used to boil down an rinse with, that is must have had some kind of medicinal, anti-bacterial qualities.

i asked her about her teeth. she giggled. ‘i NEVER had a cavity until i kissed my husband, well, he was my boyfriend then. i think i got my first cavity from him.’ she believed that when they kissed they spread their bacteria and from then on she started getting cavities. he had lots of cavities. she got it from him.

had a conversation with my friend the other day (American, raised in the mid-west). she was telling me about some things going on with her digestion. that certain foods triggered certain outcomes. she talked about it like something was wrong, and told me about the diet she was learning about, an anti- inflammatory diet, referenced Michael Pollan – The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and other ‘new research.’

i listened and tried so hard to just to be quiet. after a bit i broke in with… ‘i really don’t think there is anything wrong with you. i think you are just learning now about how to eat the way that WORKS for your body, versus however you were eating before. you have become aware’

it’s amazing to me that people are just learning to eat well. i am lucky. so i am 2nd generation American, born in Switzerland to American parents who lived in Europe for 20 years. right that the end of their time in europe (And puerto rico and north aftica) was when my brother and i popped out, i in geneva, he in lausanne. i used to think my mom and grandparents were weird, cheap, old fashioned. we never ate from cans and shopped from farmers with muddy, cracking  hands when i was a kid. this was normal to us. when i went to Romania to see my grandfathers village it was the same thing.

it baffles my mind that as far as this country has come we are just learning to eat in a way that suits not only our own bodies, and also the earth. so i bite my tongue in these conversation, though quietly thank my ancestors. i am not anywhere NEAR related to royalty, i am from people who worked the earth, understood the earth and its relations to their own bodies. they had to make things themselves, they were poor. though i also think ‘poor’ is interesting. the average lifespan of my grandparents has been around 93. our grandmother is 101, so check in in a year or two.

amazing. the pendulum swings back and forth. what is rich is poor, what is poor, rich. old is new. peasants are harvesting their goji berries, there are ayruvedic (ancient) ranches, people have chickens in their urban backyards. chickens roam my grandfathers village. its amazing. i love it.

well… excuse me, i am going to suck the meat off the chicken neck i am cooking down with all various broth ingredients: parsley stems, carrots, celery, wilted veggies, chicken carcass,  foraged herbs + roots,  shrimp shells my fridge… anything hanging aroudn that i can cook the remaining life from…  for broth. oh, i’ll toss the neck bone back in when i am done (boiling water kills all bacteria)


happy sunday, happy food. rejoice in your ancestry, they figured most of it out long, long ago.

Written by amandakoster

January 26, 2009 at 6:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. What is RICH?…

    I never know the meaning of RICH until i grow older.  In Google, Rich is define as “possessing material wealth” but after going a lot of seminars and business classes. I finally know the meaning of RICH. Rich doesn’t mean you …


    February 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

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