1994 | Kiev, Ukraine | Age: 11
My dad was a nuclear physicist. He also wrote poetry up until he passed away in 2001. This is a folder of some of it. Some of these white sheets were printed more recently in the U.S. Others were typewritten back there. This is a copy that was made with Soviet carbon paper. He wrote these for birthdays, anniversaries, for family, for his friends. This is just one folder of many. We probably should publish a book of his poetry. On the other hand, I have the physics books that he did have published, as well as one of his earlier inventions for which he had a patent. This is created by firing a laser into a glass cylinder through a very, very small crack. The fracture inside makes a beautiful pattern. The idea is to create artwork with technology in a solid block of glass.
My grandmother’s recipe journal is very valuable to me. The recipes are absolutely amazing and delicious. I’ve tried to make a lot of them, but they’re quite difficult to replicate. The process is complex, and the ingredients are not quite the same. This is something I would like to do when I have the time. I want to go through this book page by page and make every single recipe, but I know it will take me a few attempts with a few of the more complex ones.
I cook more these days than my mom does. I think she’s always been in favor of getting rid of things, while my father had never wanted to get rid of anything. So it was a constant battle between them, and she had told me, “Ilya, you take these things or they’re getting thrown out.” So I ended up taking a lot. Now, the more I look around the kitchen, the more items I recognize that came with us: oh it’s that spoon or this pot.
The famous Soviet meat grinder! I haven’t used it in years. We had actually brought two of these. We came with my grandparents, and there wasn’t very good coordination between us when it came to packing. Why would you bring a 10lb iron tool when space and weight is limited? Well, we brought two. Eventually all the parts from the two were combined to just keep one working, and if I ever wanted to use it again, I’d have to strip the paint. I don’t have much faith in Soviet paint and food safety.
This photograph is the oldest item I have in my family’s possession. The only thing slightly older is probably this house. The picture is almost 120 years old. This is Yefim Knizhnik, my father’s grandfather. My father is named after him, and my son is named after my father. So Yofi is actually Yefim Knizhnik V. We’ve traced the name to at least the 1780’s.