Culinary Nostalgia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Addenda to Kinga Király's Az újrakezdés receptjei (2019) / Recipes for a New Beginning (2020)
Keywords:alimentary life writing, foodways, North Transylvanian Jewry, Proustian memory, social death, ecology of witnessing, yizkor books, Jewish cemeteries
Kinga Király conducted interviews with ten North Transylvanian survivors who represent the last witnesses of a generation that is about to disappear and leave us with the question of what to remember and how. On reading the testimonies catalogued in the volume Király produced from those interviews, I realized that I felt compelled to make further connections with my own research on foodways and war trauma and on the ecologies of survival witnessing. In a section on the mass genocide of Transylvanian Jewry I provide a brief historical sketch to help the understanding of the historical complexity and tragedy of the lives of pre- and postwar Transylvanian Jewry. I then contrast the stories of some of Király's subjects with the postwar memoirs of other Transylvanian survivors who emigrated either right after the war or under the Ceausescu dictatorship. I discuss prewar Transylvanian Jewish food culture, and subsequently locate Király's collection as a continuation of the tradition of the memorial or yizkor [‘remembrance’] books. Finally, I discuss Jewish cemeteries and the virtual social death of Jewish tradition in Transylvania, to ask: what is it that remains today from the shattered culture of Transylvanian Jewry?
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