"Cooking, kitchen and hearth were touchstones: mothers, grandmothers and aunts were the guardians of their heritage"by Wendell Steavenson / June 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Before Syrians had to flee, Iraqis fled. Before the Iraqis fled, Palestinians had to. A hundred years ago, Armenians were driven out of their Ottoman homelands by the young Turks. Waves of refugees have washed into Lebanon; many have stayed.
In May, in the Burj Hammud neighbourhood of Beirut where the Armenians settled, Armenian flags fluttered from every building and graffiti stencils of a gobbling turkey head were sprayed on the walls. It is a century since a genocide that has not been forgotten—nor acknowledged by its perpetrator. My friend Aline Kamakian grew up in a proudly Armenian household during Lebanon’s civil war. Her grandmother was nine when she escaped, rescued by a French ship from Musa Dagh, a region where the Armenians bravely resisted forced deportation. During Aline’s childhood, “Everything revolved around food. At breakfast we discussed what we would have for lunch. At lunch it was ‘what’s for dinner?’ This was our culture.” Cooking, kitchen and hearth were touchstones: mothers, grandmothers and aunts were the guardians of their heritage.