So I started writing a column about Pinterest and bubble tea. Trust me, there is a relationship but you will have to wait until next week to find out what it is. Instead I am going to talk about mothers and food.
My sister and I were talking the other day about walking up the driveway after school and smelling dinner. We always tried to guess what it was and inevitably the first thing out of our mouth was “are we having ______?” or at least “what’s for dinner?”
Our kids expended that when they were younger but now that we are working dinner is usually started when we all get home or we are somewhere other than home eating it.
My mother was a rock star in the kitchen when we were kids. Everything was homemade and we thought we were so lucky when we got to have a TV dinner on a Saturday night when she and my dad went out.
Whenever the sifter came out of the cupboard we knew it was time to bake. Coffee time after Sunday dinner was a ritual of childhood I hold close to my heart. The counter was like an alter of cakes and pies.
She would bake every Saturday often making pies with fresh fruit or cooked pudding. I loved stirring the pudding because at the end I could lick the rubber scraper after she emptied the pudding from the pan to the crust. I also remember that the lemon pudding took particularly long to cook because it needs to be cooked over very low heat in order not to burn it.
She can still bake a mean peach pie although she complains she no longer has the touch.
I come from a long line of women who not only can cook but who understood the learning and bonding that goes on at the family table. I talk about my grandmothers all of the time. Between them I learned how to make many things both sweet and savory. My Godmother, Aunt Angie made a great salad. As an adult we realized it tasted so good because she used salt, something that was taboo in our house due to parental health problems. My Aunt Mary made a sour cream cake that was like heaven on your tongue. I need to get her recipe and share!
My Aunt Lee used to make punch and let the kids drink out of the very same glasses as the grown-ups (not the same bowl, mind you :o). When I met my husbands family I realized he had a very similar experience and when his cousins gather they still reminisce about back in the day and what food they ate.
My generation of women are more similar than different the more I think about it. We have realized that some of the recipes died with the cook and we are much better at cataloging them. My mom does not know how to make a special bread her mother made at Christmas nor does she have the exact recipe for the Anise Toast.
Instead she developed a fantastic buttery caramel biscotti which she made by the bushel for my niece Roseanne’s wedding. Roseanne’s daughter Molly is in my mother’s arms in the picture. Roseanne is an avid cook and baker, learning from my sister-in-law Barbara who learned from her mother…it’s sort of like looking in the mirror holding the mirror, isn’t it?
My sister-in-law Mary is a physician and scientist but takes cooking and baking just as seriously. She is the one who makes Cucidati and grinds the figs up by hand. Anyone who has ever made these cookies knows the amount of time and patience it takes and I marvel at her achievement each year. Her cookie platter requires time and tea to taste each one. She is also the first person I ever knew who said out loud what we all were thinking after a death in the family. She said “as soon as I heard that _____ died all I wanted to do was cook!” We are conditioned that food brings comfort as well as joy.
I met some wonderful women last week at the Youngstown Women’s Club where they asked me to speak about my life as a “foodie.” My message was that we are all foodies. If we pay any attention to what we eat or make, we know the power of food. As women we know the power of food to keep a family together.
Here’s to all the mothers both biologically and emotionally who keep telling us “eat this…it’ll make you feel better!”
Have a yummy week!
Follow me on Twitter @JudeTheFoodie