Stop and think of your favourite family recipe, cooked by someone you love. For many, what is evoked is not just the meal, or the taste of the food itself, but the memories of whoever it was that cooked it and the times associated with them. These memories tend to become more precious and vivid if the loved one is no longer there to cook that favourite any more.
This got me thinking about what it is about sharing a meal that creates an invitation for multiple generations to open up with stories and memories of their loved ones, past and present. The recipes become heirlooms, handed down and living on for generations, like culinary DNA.
Ask the question, “What’s your favourite food memory?” and tastes and smells are inevitably recounted as a story seasoned with emotions - the main ingredient - the loved one associated with that recipe. As evidenced by a quick poll around the office that gave the following responses:
Kelly: “My Grandmother’s apple crumble, she made apple slice from the leftovers – so good. Dad’s version just doesn’t stack up!”
John: “Mum’s rum baba, she spent hours making it and once she entrusted it to dad to take to a party. He dropped it twice on the way to the car. Luckily it was in a container, and even though it looked shocking, we at it and it tasted amazing. We still tease dad about it to this day.’’
Tamar: “Popping Hershey’s kisses with my Grandmother whilst watching Spanish dramas. She read the subtitles to me as I was too young to read, and maybe too young to be watching the dramas, but I didn’t care so long as I could sit near her and eat chocolate I was in heaven!”
Lloyd: “My Grandmother’s dahl, meat and eggplant was the best. No-one could make it like her and I lost count of the number of times the family asked her to make it. She was so patient and never tired of accommodating us.”