For years Devi Lockwood avoided learning how to cook. Now, she makes dolmades.
A batch of dolmades the author made in Dunedin, New Zealand. The leaves were from a vine in her friend's backyard.
I was born to a white American mother and a Syrian-Armenian father. His family is Armenian, but lived in Kessab, Syria, before immigrating to Massachusetts. But growing up, I had little contact with his family and culture, including its rich Syrian and Armenian food traditions. His own presence in my life is limited and distorted by his history of violence towards my mother.
My biological father’s aggression was explosive. Some of my earliest memories are of him making death threats to my mom and throwing a lamp at her. I remember watching from the hallway, too afraid to intervene. Sometimes, I would cover my ears and run to my room, putting a pillow over my head to muffle his yelling. I took refuge in the pictures in fairytale books. The Twelve Dancing Princesses was my favorite.
Much of this violence happened in the kitchen. For years I had a fear of knives, though I couldn’t remember them ever having been held in anger. I blamed myself for being powerless to protect my mother from his outrage – his fists, his hands, his threats.
Photos: Devi Lockwood for NPR
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