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The Taste of Childhood

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Our family immigrated to Ukraine in early 1990s. Though we’ve been living in Ukraine for over 25 years, my parents still feel a longing for their home. One day my father said that he would like to visit the graves of his parents once again. He is 80 now, and a trip to Armenia at his age is a risky affair. In order to relieve his mind a little, I ordered grave cleaning at the grave maintenance service iGraveCare. The work was completed in five days, and I saw a photo progress report in my personal account. When my father looked at the photos, I saw tears in his eyes. It was a very touching moment. On the site of iGraveCare they say about the presence effect, and when I saw my father’s eyes swimming in tears, I understood what they mean. I am thankful to the creators of iGraveCare service for the opportunity of paying our love, respect and memory to our ancestors by a simple maintenance of their graves. That’s all I can do for them today. But cleaning their graves, I feel warmth and satisfaction, and grateful eyes of my father make me happy. In conclusion, I want to share my grandmother’s story, which in a magic way makes me feel integral and accomplished.

My brightest childhood memories are associated with the age of five-six years. Summer had come, and I moved from the heat of Yerevan to my granny’s, as usual.

For the summer period, the herd of cows was overlanded from the village to a high-mountain pasture. I remember a rapid mountain river with tiny wooden houses standing side by side along its banks. Every house had a square of just 12-15 meters. A simple furnishing included only bare essentials: a narrow bunkbed, a wooden table, a stool and a stove.

Despite a summer time, there was quite cold in the mountains, and my granny burned wood in a stove and cooked food in it. I remember incredibly delicious porridge. She always added a spoonful of cream into my plate, and never – into her own plate. 

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Early in the morning and in the evening she went to do milking, and then processed milk on a separator. Cream was stored in milk cans, and skimmed milk was used for making cheese that was called usak. I was surprised and charmed with an unusual process of this cheese creating.

I could watch for hours how she with a striking speed was twisting on her elbows a ring of cheese in a saucepan with warm whey. When it became long and thin, granny with a quick thrust middled the cheese strap and went on twisting. In 2 or 3 hours of non-stop screwing and twisting, a shapeless cheese mass turned into a tangle made of thin white threads. You won’t find such a delicious cheese even in exclusive shops today. It had a smell of natural cow’s milk and was filled with flavours of summer herbs. My granny made the thinnest Armenian usak in the village and the thinnest Armenian lavash. Despite she was Ukrainian.

She had grey eyes and incredibly white skin. During Holodomor (forced famine in Ukraine), my grandmother was orphaned. She was a small girl at that time. When she was 13, she escaped from Ukraine to Armenia in a cattle car, together with her elder sister. She was put in an orphan’s house in Artick. Granny’s sister, Aunt Galya, worked in the nearest eating house – she went there in order to visit her younger sister more frequently.

My grandmother named her first-born son Stepan, after her father… She had lived a long and happy life. She died in 2004 at the age of 85. Recently, I asked my father, the very same Stepan: “How could it happen that my grandfather agreed to name his first son after a father of his Ukrainian wife? From one generation to another, all Armenian men give their sons names after their fathers.” My father smiled and answered: “He simply loved her so much.”

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