Comments: The Roots of Our Food Attitudes


Not an avid commenter, but an avid reader - and I LOVE reading stories like this - maybe especially because I don't have one like it to tell... My grandmothers unfortunately both died before making any lasting impressions on my food/cooking repetoire - although I do remeber my paternal grandmother making me open faced sandwiches and open faced cucumber sandwiches with cold cuts or pate, cucumber playing the role of the bread. As for my Mom, well, I've gone in the exact opposite direction. I wouldn't say she hated cooking, it just really wasn't what she wanted to spend her time doing, being a single mom and all. My sister and I use to joke that she's only ONCE baked us a cake - and that was more like a torte and we didn't really like it! Actually I remember baking a sheet cake for her to bring to her office on more than one occasion.
A beautiful post Meg!

Hey, thanks - it's nice to know it wasn't just crickets out there! And I do feel extremely lucky to have known both my grandmothers as they were both very special ladies. I miss them still.

Hey, crickets are good luck, but I just read this.

Great story. I know of the Cooking as Deep Therapy. I survived the rough fall of 2001 by making a hell of a lot of soup. (Speaking of which, I tried the roasted tomato and onion soup recently. Thank you.)

My mom typed a number of her recipes up for me and put them in a cookbook for my last birthday. I would grab it on my way out of the burning house. I was especially touched to find one that she won a blue ribbon at the county fair for: a real family effort, with my aunt-who-is-also-my-godmother providing the homemade apricot jam, and my paternal grandmother, may she rest in peace, providing the recipe. I have been featuring these recipes somewhat sporadically on my blog.

Said grandmother was born on Thanksgiving and, while I miss all my grandparents around the holidays, I especially remember her. When the chips are really down, I eat chocolate pudding with a float of heavy cream, because that is what she gave us for dessert. She never met anything butterfat she didn't like and I resemble her strongly in this.

But I think my mom gave me the best sort of food upbringing, by the combo of being a skilled cook, willing to try new things, and not insisting that we eat something we hated (a product of HER upbringing).

Meg, what a lovely post. I’ve been ruminating on it for days, but, mired in the end-of-semester workload, have been unable to string together any coherent thoughts.

My deep love of cooking was fostered solely by my mother. Neither grandmother was much of a cook; Granny managed to ruin a cake mix back in the days when all one did was add water, stir, and bake, and Nanny thought of cooking as the activity that interrupted cocktails.

My mother, who learned to cook in a frantic scramble after her honeymoon, fed our family of seven generously and creatively on my father's teaching salary. Amazingly, she found the patience to allow me into the kitchen to play and learn. By the time I was six or so, she let me make simple family dinners. Understandably, my mother, whose cooking was a matter of necessity, was always more interested in meat-and-potatoes than exotic dishes or frills. But she was always imaginative, and dinner was always wholesome, satisfying, and delicious.

As her children grew up and her budget expanded, Mom began to explore with new tools and novel ingredients. We still cook together, and often try to deconstruct and replicate or surpass restaurant meals, with a reasonable level of success.

Perhaps it's unsurprising that all five of my mother's children love to cook, and that we all push ourselves to be creative and resourceful in the kitchen. She gave us a tremendous gift.

Thanks to you all for the comments - it really reinforces my belief that our mothers effect our attitudes to food incredibly deeply. I love hearing your stories!

Charlotte, my mother and cousin also put together a book of family recipes but just those of my grandmother. It's one of my favourite books too, and will certainly be passed on to the next generation!

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