Last August I visited Latvia with my parents. It was the first time they'd visited since immigrating to the United States in 1975, and my first time visiting the mythical place of my roots, ever. It was an incredible experience. Emotional at unexpected moments, not emotional at other moments that we thought would be. My mother, father, and I were all fearful and excited for what the reality of a reunion, or in my case, a first encounter, would bring. The article in last month's Saveur, complete with recipes, only tells part of the story, but I hope I told it well. (This photo, from the trip, was shot by the inimitable Landon Nordeman.)
As an aside, the guide and phantom presence during the trip, and as I wrote this story (which took many painful and at times exhilerating months) was my grandmother, Rhoda Gurevich. She was probably the proudest Rigan (person from Latvia's capital, Riga) I ever encountered, and had a lot to do with instilling the belief in our family of what a wonderful and elegant place it was. I believed every word, and my visit hinted at what Riga must have been during the golden age in which she grew up (before the Nazis and Communists, but that's another story).
She wrote her memoir a few years before she died, in 1998. It turned out to be the best English language source for my research on Latvia. It's amazing how little has been written about the place, its customs and food. I am so grateful that my grandmother was there to help me even though she is no longer here. If you're curious to read her story, which is an extraordinary one, you can buy it here (thanks to the wonders of technology and self-publishing!). It's inexpensive to buy in print, and even cheaper to download the file. Please keep in mind I haven't had a chance to tinker too much with formatting/styling/line editing, but even in its current form I am proud of what my grandmother accomplished, in her life and book.
Thanks for reading. Obviously these subjects are very dear to my heart. If you do choose to read the article or book or both, I hope you enjoy spending some time with me and my family.