What did you learn from the women in your life? With poet, food critic, and travel writer Jen Karetnick
What did you learn from the women in your life? What did you learn from your mom? What did you learn from your grandmother? Did these women teach you to cook? Did these women teach you how to love? Did you learn how to be strong from your mother? Was grace something that your grandmother taught you? Does your mom remind you to sleep and eat when you are stressed? Does your aunt remind you that you are strong? Did your sister teach you to forgive? Did your daughter teach you to relax? What did you learn from them to maintain your mental health? What have you learned from the women in your life? In this interview with Jen Karetnick you learn that her grandmother, mom, and sister influenced her life greatly, teaching her independence, strength, balance, Jewish traditions, and forgiveness.
Jen Karetnick is a talented published food and travel writer, a poet, she’s a wife, and mom to her daughter and son. We had a really great conversation where we touched a broad number of topics starting with who Jen is and the women in her life influenced her. We discussed a genealogy test that she took that showed that she was 98% Ashkenazi Jewish. Jen touched on how she feels when white people respond to discovering that she’s Jewish. And of course we talked about her Jewish culture and her favorite Jewish meal. This interview also goes into how Jen became a food critic and her favorite travel writing experience. Overall it’s a pretty fun and open interview. I hope you enjoy it.
Jen’s mom encouraged her to be strong and to be herself. Jen describes her mom as someone who was hardworking, a feminist, a care taker to her grandparents, but also a caterer to her husband. Jen’s mom saw her starting off her family life and told her that she had to stop this overload of life. She adapted quickly and raised her kids to be self-sufficient.
Like a lot of us Jen took a genealogy test, but she didn’t do this purely out of curiosity about her family. Jen took the test at the urging of her doctor because she has quite a few autoimmune diseases. So it turns out that she’s 98% Ashkenazi and her husband is about 1% more than she is. Now she’s urging her children not to marry someone Jewish so that her grandchildren don’t end up with the same inherited illnesses.
“It's funny how people treat you when they realize that you’re Jewish and when they don’t know”. Jen is sometimes a blond and sometimes brunette. When she's blond, white people assume she’s a white woman. When they learn that she’s culturally Jewish these same people are taken aback, they are shocked, and react in a way that tells her that she is different - other. Passing and knowing that she’s different is something that she has had to deal with throughout life. These experiences have taught her to be more caring and kind to other people.
She was raised Jewish religiously and culturally and now passes that culture down to her children. The favorite part of her Jewish heritage is hands down the food! And her favorite Jewish dish is herring with sour cream and wine sauce. In times of stress Jen’s mom reminds her to eat and sleep.
Food is a large part of the Jewish culture. When celebrating there’s food and when in mourning food is constantly coming from friends and family. Jen’s sister taught her to not hold grudges. She held onto a grudge with her brother that she never healed before he passed away. She’s taught her children to not hold on to negative energy.
In this episode Jen tells us about her journey of becoming a food critic and travel writer. She talks about an unforgettable trip to the Amazon in Peru where she had crazy experiences of eating live termites and fishing for piranha that apparently taste like trout. But you have to keep listening to hear the story about how someone jumped out of the boat for a swim and jumped back in the boat with a bite.
Jen’s favorite trip abroad was a 3 day safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park krugerpark.co.za/ . She had the unique experience of seeing a pride with about 18 lions.
Jen’s favorite girls trip was to Paso Robles, CA for a wine trip, visiting 4 vineyards a day, in addition to 4 vineyards that came to them for lunch and another 4 visited them for dinner. Paso Robles has over 60 different types of grapes. Two of the amazing women owned vineyards that she visited were Epoch epochwines.com/ and Harmony Cellars harmonycellars.com/. In the interview Jen talks about some of the benefits of women owned vineyards.
Her question for other women: Why didn’t you tell me how hard it was going to be?
What does it mean to be a woman: If you have 1% of feeling like a woman then you have a moment of being a woman.
How to find Jen
Supporting Women Writers in Miami swwim.org
Jen’s recently published book of poetry "Crossing Over"
How to find Erica and Collective Drift
Music by Catherine Knowles