A blogger buddy recently lost his mother. He wrote her a lovely epitaph in a blog entry. What I found just as touching is his plan to post one of her recipes. This recipe is something uncommon and ‘hers alone’. I find this charming. It makes me think about my own dear departed and the things they made or enjoyed. Passing down a recipe may sound mawkish, but this is far more comforting a legacy then say a material object. Everyone can have it; and you can make it again and again. Like love, it is always in the present tense.
My grandmother made hamburger soup. This is a great example of a food memory for a) I know of no one else who makes it and b) it links to a plethora of memories of her. I have the original index card upon which she wrote the recipe out with a fountain pen, using green ink. I don’t make it often, but when I do, she is with me again. It makes sense: smell and taste are the senses most likely to evoke emotions.
Recipes memories and their associates are never consciously made, which adds a charming fatefulness to them. Grandmother would be a git bewildered (and perhaps a bit miffed) to think ‘this is how you remember me”, but there it is. While I would like to be remembered for something I like to make (or drink) I know is not up to me to decide.
Sometimes a food memory isn’t a recipe but someone’s fondness for a quirky snack or food combination. Father has always ordered ‘a small chocolate cone’ whenever we went to the DQ for a summer night’s treat. By now all his children and grandchildren call dessert ‘small chocolate cone’ like the British ask “what’s for pudding”? I don’t know what sort of funeral arrangement Father wants, but I will insist we get a soft ice cream dispenser for the wake.
When said blogger posts his mother’s recipe for tomato soup cake with cream cheese topping, I plan on making it. I’ve never met her of course, but while I make and consume it, I will think of her.
I would love to hear from you if you have a food memory of someone you love.