I have been writing this blog for two years! I posted my first piece the day after Barack Obama was inaugurated as President. I started Villa Victoria Blog in order to create a body of work for a book. To write that book I need to write it TO someone. Who out there gives a rat's **** about what interests me? Who is my audience?
I love Genealogy -- my genealogy. I am fascinated by the fact that I am the sum-total of all the 10,000+- people who have gone before me. I am the product of the choices they made, painted on the broad canvas of History.
My story as an African-American chef has no redemption, no reconciliation, no transcendence, no conflict, and no struggle to get "out of the ghetto". My story is about my forbear's trajectory, tacked up on a map on a wall. The stories of my families span history, time, continents, cultures, hemispheres and languages. If I could graphically show this I would, with a push pin firmly jabbed into Seattle, tie strings from that pin to pins in the Lombard Region of Italy in the 13th Century, Northwest Spain's Galicia in the 14th Century, points along The Silk Route, Portugal, Scotland in the 17th Century, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, California, Africa in the who-knows-what-Century and Mexico.
This motley Cast of Characters, as I have come to call them, were constantly on the move, crossing oceans and continents. There was my ggggggrandfather, James Logan Colbert, an illiterate Scottish Trader in northern MIssissippi who had two stands on the Natchez Trace and ferried Andrew Jackson's army across the Tennessee River for $75,000. There was the nameless (Ramos, possibly) Sephardic merchant who went East on the Silk Road to trade in China. There was the Andrade family from A-Coruña in northwest Spain who escaped the Inquisition and went into the hinterland of Mexico. And there were Elizabeth and Asberry Smith, my grandparents, who found it within their ken to move their family from Oklahoma to Tampico, Mexico and acquire another language and culture. They lived their lives, migrated, adapted to their surroundings and reinvented themselves. But who would be interested in that?
The next phase of my blog I will bring these characters to life because they are screaming to get heard. And I will bring them all to the forefront through food. This is my reto, my challenge, for 2011. Anyone who has ever wondered how it is they got here might be interested in following the push pin-tied strings with me to all those places where my people went. You will get recipes as an added value if you continue on this armchair trip with me. Reader, I invite you to click on the Comments link below and let me know what you think.