In this week’s workshop, my students discussed why recipes matter. Family recipes and favorite foods from childhood prompted many memories to surface. We took the opportunity to discuss how food influenced our: Culinary history, a sense of belonging to an ethnic or cultural group, and memories of another time in life or another person’s history.
Most of us have favorite recipes that can be linked to an event or person in our lives.
It might be a holiday sweet or a dish from our childhood. There are some who consider recipes a form of art. Sometimes recipes are used to achieve a specific outcome (magic, aphrodisiacal, or medicinal). Even more are made with the intention of being a gift.
Ghosts Linger in Old Cookbooks
“Ghost linger in old cookbooks,” says Kate Murphy, in her article “Between the Recipes, Scribbles Speak Volumes”.
Often, cookbooks and recipe cards contain handwritten annotations about the recipe’s use, or feedback on how it might be altered, or when and for whom the dish was made. My mother annotated her own cookbooks and recipe cards in her catalog box. Having those items passed down to me makes me feel like she is with me in my kitchen. Her handwritten notes and comments are a reminder that I am passing down her history and her ancestor’s history with these recipes.
Paying Recipes Forward
Many people include cookbook collections in their wills and legacy letters. Some collections can be quite large, especially if the collector was a world traveler. As we move to adding e-recipes into our inherited or new collections, are we mindful to jot in any notes about the recipes we are trying?
Many times when I’m looking for a new recipe these days, I find it easy to do an online search using keywords of ingredients I have on hand at the time. I will then print out the recipe that sounds good and use that in the kitchen because I don’t want to soil my device. I store the printout in a folder in my cupboard and also an e-copy in a folder on my computer. But I don’t really organize these in any way. When I want to make the recipe again, I never seem to find the previously-printed copy that I may have made notes on, so I end up printing out a new version.
Are you printing out online recipes? Are you making handwritten notes for you and your children and grandchildren? If so, how are you cataloging your printouts? I realize that a lot of people aren’t even cooking much anymore, they opt for the convenience of restaurant food, or premade recipes from the store.
Have you thought about how you might pass on your favorite recipe to your children and grandchildren? Please send me your comments!