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How a pet project about cooking turned into a moving tribute to grandmothers everywhere.

What we can learn from our ancestors about ourselves is invaluable.

How a pet project about cooking turned into a moving tribute to grandmothers everywhere.

Jonas Pariente's grandmother, Mémé, passed away shortly before his 30th birthday.

Mémé was born in Poland in 1916. His other grandmother, Nano, was born in Egypt in 1933.

When Jonas was 23, he began filming both of his grandmothers in the kitchen as a way to learn more about his roots and identity through the signature dishes they cooked and the stories they shared.


Nano and Mémé. Image from Jonas Pariente, used with permission.

Our ancestors have invaluable lessons and history to pass on to younger generations — after all, who knows more about where we came from than they do?

Mémé's death inspired Jonas to create a collaborative video series he called the Grandmas Project.

The Grandmas Project is a web series through which people around the world are invited to share their grandmothers' stories through their recipes. With his own grandmothers, Jonas discovered that food was a great entry point to conversations about their childhoods, their immigration journeys, and other things they had never talked about.

Food was how Jonas learned to appreciate the time he spent with his grandmothers, and the series of videos produced for the Grandmas Project is a beautiful way to honor the bonds and memories we share with our grandmothers with the rest of the world.

Nano cooking. Image by Jonas Pariente, used with permission.

The Grandmas Project is about so much more than just food, though. It's about preserving history.

For Jonas, the idea of collecting, celebrating, and sharing our grandmothers' recipes isn't just a way to keep the food alive — it's a way to preserve our heritage through those recipes as they're passed from generation to generation.

Some of the best moments of his life were ones spent visiting Mémé and Nano on his own, Jonas tells Welcometoterranova, though he cautions that those moments can be fleeting if we don't take the time to appreciate them.

"Sometimes we hesitate or find excuses not to call or visit our grandparents. It sucks because these moments can't be replaced and can turn out to be magical," Jonas says.

Nano and Jonas. Image by Jonas Pariente, used with permission.

Jonas' story is a perfect example of the wonderful things that can come about when we pump the brakes on our hectic lives and take the time to call or visit our grandparents.

The amazing response to the Grandmas Project shows just how many people feel the same about their own grandmothers.

Jonas' Kickstarter campaign to create 30 short films with 30 recipes was successfully funded in May 2015. Over $21,000 was raised in 30 days. The project received video submissions from every continent — over 100 in total, Jonas says. Four films have been completed, and another 10 entries will soon be chosen to go into production after the summer.

In January 2016, the Grandmas Project received an award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its work “raising awareness among the general public to the intangible cultural heritage through digital means.”

Jonas says he's happy his project created a little spark that's encouraging people to spend more time with their grandmas.

"I'm very, very proud of that, and I believe it does people good."

Watch one of the videos from Jonas's "Grandmas Project" series:

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