Food and Family

The other night at dinner with some old high school friends, the topic of food books came up. I know I’m obssessed with food, but neither of these girls are, so I was surprised to hear them tossing around names like “Julie and Julia” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemna”. I was excited to have people to talk to about the books and immediately inquired about borrowing them, when an interesting pattern arose “Oh, I loaned that one to my mother,” M said of her copy of Omnivore. I mentioned my mother had just loaned me “Heat” by Bill Buford (a great read, might I add). K said that her mother had just bought the new “Fortune Cookie Chronicles” and would put that into rotation amongst us shortly.

Yes, we are all young, well educated women in our twenties who are close with our mothers, but it stood out to me that food literature was such a markedly shared point between ourselves and our mothers. No longer do young women stand at their mothers apron strings learning the foodways passed down among generations, nor do they share a kitchen through their entire lives with either their mother or their mother-in-law. Yet, could it be that the kitchen, in both its literal and figurative meanings, has become a sacred space for the bonds of mothers and their daughters. In our culture, where the modern kitchen is supposedly the domain of both sexes (and all too often becomes the domain only of the local chinese restaurant), that it truly has remained a place for the bonding of female generations? If chauvinism is what kept women at the stove for so many years, why is it that we choose to spend our time sharing books about foo with our mothers? We all surely share other books with each other, but less so with our mothers. Food is the universal uniter, it can be related across generations, as has been shown in traditional kitchens for thousands of years. I just like to see that it hasn’t faded from view. That mother and daughter will still bond over a biscuit recipe, or perhaps in my case, a good bowl of Singapore noodles.


One Response

  1. One of the major differences I see in my food relationship with my mother compared to those of the past is that we share back and forth. She wasn’t around when I was growing up, but even if she had been, I doubt I would have had that apron strings relationship with her. Now that I have my own family, I’ve learned a few recipes from my mother-in-law that make my husband drool, and a few that appeal to me that I never ate growing up. I’ve learned to make the Vietnamese salad rolls that my mother and I both absolutely love, and I’ve passed the recipe on to her. She still shares slow cooker recipes with me and tells me about the things she and her husband are cooking. I think I much prefer this exchange of information to the way it was – learning tried and true recipe from your mother or mother-in-law and never deviating or making anything creative on your own. It’s no wonder my grandmothers still cook exactly the same kind of food that their mothers more than likely made when they were young.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: