Cooking with the ancestors


I am writing to you from a place that is very dear to my heart right now. The seven year anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up this month and I will be honest when I tell you that I am feeling slight tenderness because of it.

This time of year has become an interesting one for me. Spring is around the corner, so my mood always lifts and at the same time, I feel my mom’s presence much more intensely than I do at other times of the year. My birthday is literally one week after the anniversary of her death. I will be 35 this year. It seems like a big one to me.

My mom and I share a love of nature and beautiful gardens, so I always plant something in her honour. This year I am creating a Polish meadow in my front garden. The country where I was born. I did not grow up there, but my mom always spoke so fondly of it.

Which brings me to the reason I am writing today.


Maya Tiwari talks about cooking the food of our ancestry as a way to heal ourselves in her book The Path of Practice. She teaches that we hold the memories of our ancestors in our bodies. They are carried through our cells. Any unresolved wounds of our ancestors are carried in our mother’s wombs and passed down to us. We can start to heal ourselves and in turn, our ancestors, by reconnecting with them.

Sometimes this can be painful, particularly if our childhoods were not happy and our family situations are less than ideal.

A really beautiful way of connecting and healing ourselves is to start cooking the food of our ancestors.

I have been cooking the food of my childhood in the last week. I have been doing this to connect to my mom. What I am finding is that it is giving me an incredible peace and stability. I have literally cried upon taking the first bite of a particular childhood favourite.

When we cook the food of our ancestry, we literally ground ourselves. Our bodies literally remember our mothers, our grandmothers and all the women and men that have come before us. We find that the smells of the herbs and spices of the land of our origins starts waking something up within us. Our hands know exactly how to knead the particular bread that our people would eat to sustain them. We intuitively know when to stir the pot, how much of a particular spice to add and when to take the cake out of the oven. The smells of the foods enter our spirits and give us a lightness of being.

We not only start to remember our childhoods, but we start to remember things much older than these physical bodies.

We find that our bodies easily digest this food, because they have been programmed to. Our children love to eat the food too, because it wakes up their ancestral memories.

When we make this a sacred act and involve our families, we heal on so many layers. We bring laughter, love and peace into our homes. Life becomes easy.

We are not constantly trying the latest food fad and destabilising ourselves because of it. We are not scattered because we are trying to follow a recipe we don’t know. This new recipe may sustain us on a physical level, but it does not touch our souls the way our ancestral food does.

Cooking the food of our ancestors will do more for our health than any amount of green smoothies can. We are more than our physical bodies. If we believe that the way to health and happiness is only through the macro and micro nutrient composition of the food we ingest, we are missing a much, much bigger picture of who we really are. Yes, of course those things are important, but they are not the only thing.

I could share a recipe from my ancestry with you. But, that would defeat the purpose of this post. I encourage you to research the food of the land of your ancestors and to start cooking. Involve your children. Make it something you do when you need comfort in your life, like in the week before your menstrual cycle begins. The healing effects of this practice will ground and sustain your spirit.

I would love to hear about your favourite recipes from your ancestry and if they have been a source of comfort to you.

Blessings to you.

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2 thoughts on “Cooking with the ancestors

  1. Nic

    Hi Ola! I lost track of you when you changed Facebook details, so nice to see you pop up again. This post is lovely. We lived across the road from a Polish family last summer and the Baba would go to a Polish deli in Sydney once a week and bring me back salted ogorki- yuuuuummmm and so much better than the supermarket brands. You’re absolutely right- every bite would transport me to this happy place, sitting under my Babcia’s table in late summer munching on her home grown and pickled cucumbers while her cat would sit next to me ignoring me completely. So very nourishing. Thank you for sharing this piece and look forward to seeing your Polish lawn xxx



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