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.