Food and Stories

I was watching the Food Nanny on BYUtv recently and something she said sparked a thought. One of her philosophies is to have theme nights when planning what to eat for dinner. A favorite theme of the Food Nanny’s is Tradition Day. On Tradition Day you eat recipes that are family favorites. What a perfect thing to do, cook a favorite recipe and then share the story behind the dish or the person who introduced that dish to the family. Over time you could compile those recipes and stores into a wonderful family cookbook and family history book.

Heritage Recipe Book

I found this beautiful example of a family cookbook on Blurb, with some of the stories and history behind the recipes. My mom isn’t famous for her good cooking but I think that my extended family might be a good source for project like this. When I think of my grandma’s cooking, I think of fruitcake and banana nut bread. I wonder what recipes my cousins have that trace back to my grandma. Since I’m working on a Generations Project with my great-great-grandmother Mary Taylor it would be interesting to know what kind of recipes exist from her day. I don’t know of any recipes handed down from Mary but maybe some out there. But even knowing what kinds of foods she ate during her childhood in England and then in her later life here in the west would be very interesting.

I’ll have to think about this idea and see what percolates out. Do you have a family recipe collection? Are there fun or interesting stories to go with those recipes?

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4 thoughts on “Food and Stories

  1. We do this a lot in our house. Since we were a large farming family in a tightly nit community (a ton of our families live multi-generational so we had to share duties. Several adult women live under the same roof and trade off cooking). We always looked forward to meal time as each cook determined the meal’s contents as much as the season did. Grandmother did a lot with deep-fried veggies, my aunt did awesome one pot dishes and mom always did the “comfort” foods. I learned bits and peices about each of them as I helped prepare food with them. I miss the heritage and generations now that they are dying off and the next generation is not choosing this way to live. Stories, history and lives were shared while we prepared the evening meals together. I try to keep this alive as best I can still today by planning meals based on “Mom’s best lasagna” or “Grandma’s fried zuchinni” and “Aunt Kathy’s chicken and rice” – many times the family will even ask for one of these meals when we gather together on Sunday’s now. Preserving the past in food – what a way to see the things that were truely important in our history and cultures.

    • Sue, what a wonderful example of mixing food with stories. You must have such great memories of these family gathering. I really like that you name the dishes after the person. That would help make the connection stronger between the food and the memories. I agree that today it is harder for extended families to have meals together as often as they use to. We tend to get so busy and live farther apart. I applaud you for your efforts in strengthening those family bonds.

      • My grandmother left me with her love of cooking and when I saw my aunt over the holiday, we laughed and cooked together to feed the brood after the internment. We reminised as we cooked-recalling canning season disasters and favorites. Food tells a lot about a culture and a community. Fast food 60 yes ago was a sandwich in the dining room today it means a greasy burger joint. Family meals are a lost art today…but then again so is cooking. Kitchens used to be the heart of a home today it is the tv/media room … or the mini van.

      • I love the image that your description of cooking with your aunt. I agree we have shifted the center of our homes and our lives. And it isn’t an improvement. What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to find ways to reconnect families with the memories and stories that once happened naturally around the dinner table and just in their daily interactions.

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