Rollin' with the Original Grandmas
Vine leaves (warat ineb): the food of the Gods.
For anyone who has tried this incredible Mediterranean dish, their explanation of the meal would probably be on par with mine. In this day and age we have become so accustomed to the ‘quick fix’, that is, running down to the local Mediterranean take out joint and ordering the delicacies that we couldn’t be bothered making ourselves. For people like my grandma, however, this ‘quick fix’ is inexcusable.
In the lead up to my my Aunt Jessica's wedding, my family have gathered on many occasions to prepare the food for pre-nuptial festivities. My grandmother and her group of friends, knowing the festivities they had laying ahead of them, started their menu planning months ago. None of that half-a-cup-of-brown-rice-and-tuna-to-fit-into-the-dress diet, hells no. I’m talking about the day trips to farms to hand pick the ingredients needed for the function’s menu. I rang my grandmother a month ago for our morning chat, and her best friend answered the phone. I asked what they were doing together so early in the morning (it was around 8 o’clock) and they explained to me that they were heading to a vineyard to pick vine leaves, because it aint' getting fresher than that! They spent the whole day picking, cleaning, organising into size, and bagging the vine leaves so that when they got home all that was required of them was to put it all into the freezer.
The next time I called, “what are you doing today tayta (grandma)?” I was given a similar the response. “we are going to the farm!” This time it was to pick tomatoes. All I could think was “geez, do these women ever chill?!”. It was a Friday afternoon that put all of these farm trips into perspective. I was sitting amongst this group sixty-something year old women as they wrapped vine leaves laughing until tears were streaming down their faces. They were dancing to no music other than their voices and making fun of situations they had all been in.
It was in this moment that I realised what the food of the modern world was lacking- love. Amongst the chaos of raising children, being incredible wives, and working harder than any one I know, these women never took shortcuts, and always put their hearts into their cooking. They saw meals, like these lemony, irresistible vine leaves, as a reason to gather and to laugh about everything and nothing in particular. When we actually started cooking the vine leaves, I couldn't help but sneak a few of those bad boys when they weren't looking. When they caught onto my thievery, they continued calling me out to taste test everything!
As an 18 year old, I don't consider myself to be a culinary genius. But growing up amidst these women and seeing first hand their passion for feeding their families, I can only honestly say there is nothing more rewarding than taking basic ingredients, and turning them into beautiful and fulfilling cultural experiences.
For those of you who are keen on getting their hands on the recipe please don’t hesitate to contact us. I’m sure if enough people ask, she might be willing to either give you the recipe, or invite you over to learn first hand.