Erin Farha Kimmett, Author
By: Linda M. Thomas
“Hospitality & Joy” is about food and faith, cooking and ministering: two different but integrally connected kinds of nourishment. Erin Kimmett preserves recipes, each with its own story, and honors the Faith — all the while hoping to reach deep inside the soul of her readers.
Trained in graphic arts, Erin pursues her passions as a jewelry designer, Byzantine iconographer — and “wannabe” caterer. Her works are made beautiful through faith, simplicity and purity of heart. She takes us inside her studio where she paints with deliberate strokes the lines and colors that embody the Scriptures through Holy imagery. She spends her days cultivating the many gifts God gives her so that others can enjoy: whether painting icons, chanting hymns in church or feeding a congregation.
Erin strives to capture the spirit in all that she does and all that she is to grow closer to God — the way her grandmother taught her.
Violet Farha was beloved “Aunt Vi” to many. But to Erin she was “Sitey” (my grandmother in Arabic). Just as the Myrrh-bearing Women served Christ, this dearest companion to Erin neither wavered nor abandoned in her service to others.
The kinship between Erin and her Sitey extended well beyond familial ties. It almost seems as though they grew together in their love of God despite the many years between them. They formed a pact of great intimacy and respect during Erin’s formative years, and maintained that affinity throughout adulthood regardless of the miles that separated them.
That is how Erin came to learn the importance of food, family and faith, rooted in the childhood memories gathered at her grandmother’s side in the kitchen.
Erin grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Holy Pascha and birthday celebrations were traditionally spent at her childhood home where the dining room table was so laden with food that there was little to no room to sit. And Sunday afternoons were reserved for family who gathered around Sitey’s table where it was about so much more than eating.
“We would all crowd around, elbows bumping and knees banging into table legs, some of us sitting in proper chairs, others in folding chairs, and yet a few more of us on step stools,” she recalls. “Whatever it took to squeeze everyone in — it wasn’t about the seat, it was about the people. The stories flowed like sweet honey and the laughter was contagious.”
She can still hear the banter as they passed the jam and butter and fought to see who had “dibs” on the next loaf of “talemy” (a Middle Eastern bread) emerging hot from the oven.
“Tummies were nourished, memories were made and relationships were built,” she said. “That is where we got a sense of who we were, how much we were loved and just how to share that love with others.”
Today, as a wife and mother, a daughter, a sister, a niece, an aunt and a friend, Erin has carried on that tradition of “hospitality and joy” serving others through sacrifice and sacrament in her home and in her church.
The morning she learned her Sitey died, Erin wrote her first story. Words spilled. More came. Memories surged. At first, these stories were just for her. As time passed, she shared a story with a friend, who in turn shared her own memories of her grandmother. That friend encouraged her to write more. And so she did, and this cookbook is the result.
Decades have passed since those cherished days of a bright-eyed little girl and her grandmother. But, for Erin Kimmett, the breadth of her Sitey’s wisdom and love, and God’s presence in that love, remain as a sweet memory.
She can still feel those guiding hands that clasped hers while shaping her first pastries, tasting the first bite of a warm loaf of bread and hearing the whisper of sweet nothings in her ear — letting her know her Sitey is still here with her.
Erin lives in New England with her husband, the Very Reverend Joseph Kimmett, pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, a small 100-year-old Byzantine church in Norwood, Massachusetts. They have two sons: Nicholas and Zachary.