Who are we?
Born in 1986 in Yekaterinburg (formerly known as Sverdlovsk), Ksenia is a food photographer and blogger. When she was 6 years old, she emigrated to Israel with her parents. “Only in Israel did we realize that the dishes that my grandmother cooked for us in Russia, such as chopped liver and gefilte fish, were in fact Jewish,” says Ksenia, who had her first forays in the kitchen with her grandmother. “When I moved to Canada, I missed her food and so I scoured the internet for recipes in order to recreate those flavors. This led to the start of my blog: At The Immigrant’s Table (https://immigrantstable.com).”
Born in Bogota, Fabian is an engineer by profession. As far as he is concerned, food is sustenance and, as such, cooking is a basic necessity. Before he met Ksenia – and befitting an engineer – Fabian used to plan his cooking in advance and to great detail so that he only needed to cook once every three weeks, and keep it all in the freezer – even the vegetables. “I had to make him cook me Colombian food,” Ksenia recalls. Fabian says the only topic that causes arguments in the house revolves around food, and Ksenia elaborates: “He asks me what he should prepare, and with all of my special requests – to use this cheese or another, maybe add a little zhug – and please, add fried eggplant – I manage to really annoy him.”
Leo Guerrero Prints
Born in 2019 in Montreal. Despite his young age, Leo’s parents testify that he is particularly fond of eating fish, “especially white-fleshed ones”. He also loves bread and anything sweet. It came as no surprise that the first words he uttered were food related: “yum, yum”, “syr” (cheese, in Russian) and pan (bread, in Spanish). “Leo enjoys opening drawers in the kitchen while loudly yelling ‘cooking, cooking’!” his mother says proudly.
Where was the photo taken?
When at home in Montreal’s neighborhood of Verdun, Ksenia, Fabian and Leo spend most of their time in the open kitchen or the dining area facing the spacious living room. “In Colombia, most of the kitchens are in a separate room, sometimes even outside the house, but for me the kitchen is the heart of the house, where everything happens,” says Ksenia.
Our Family Kitchen
As someone who grew up in Israel, Ksenia often prepares Middle Eastern-Israeli food such as hummus, pizza-malawach and shakshouka. “Between you and me, it’s also just easier to prepare,” Ksenia says with a smile.
But, she adds, it is also important for her and Fabian to expose their toddler son to his roots, while simultaneously preserving the flavors from their childhood. Thus, they prepare both Colombian dishes such as Arepas (fried flat cornmeal cakes) and Ajiaco (chicken soup with rice, avocado, sour cream and capers) as well as Russian-Soviet dishes such as vareniki, pelmeni (Stuffed dumplings) and Plov (rice with dried fruit). “I also make roast chicken just like my grandmother Bertha, smeared with mayonnaise and paprika. We both miss the foods we grew up on,” she admits.
The House Recipe: Eggplant Shakshouka
The Prints-Guerrero’s make this Shakshouka at least once a week. “Grandma Bertha and her sister Sonia would regularly make eggplant in a slightly spicy sweet & sour sauce,” says Ksenia. “When I moved to Canada I found out that no one here knows how to make eggplant, so I added them to the Shakshouka, and ever since then it has become our favorite family dish, that everyone always asks us to bring to any event or trip.”