About Retrieving Hestia

In Greek mythology, Hestia’s domain is the hearth: the still point, the fire, the center of the home. Though her stories are few, she was beloved in every public space and private home in the ancient Greek world. Her domain grew to include the activities performed in the hearth, namely cooking. She protected those who benefited from her warmth: the family, huddled around her.

I come from a Filipino family, a culture that celebrates eating as a central activity to life. But as a first-generation Filipino-American, I grew up in a fast-food country where cookbooks are written for people who hate to cook. I live in New York City, where I’ve sometimes subsisted solely on delivery and take-out. I’ve taken food for granted: sometimes by denying all carbs, or relying on low-calorie labels; other times by thinking I had no time to cook.

 But last year something inside me shifted. My love and I began visiting the Union Square Greenmarket at the end of last summer. I got excited when I saw vegetables that I’d never heard of, looking plump, juicy, bright. I couldn’t resist buying basil every time I walked by it, obsessed with the sweet, drinkable scent. I began to cook. A lot. And I began to realize how food brought people together, how my own love of food and eating with loved ones has been there along, from the childhood family dinners that continue every time I visit home. In this project, I will attempt to slow down and reconnect with food as a medium for love, family, and home. To retrieve the still point, the warmth within that brings people to each other, and a person back to herself.

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