Remembering Loved Ones Through Food
My fingers tabbed through the yellowed recipe cards in the old Scandinavian recipe box, but the recipe wasn’t there. For a long time, I was disappointed that the recipe had never been written down. I had inherited her recipe note cards, scratch papers with food notes, and newspaper recipes that caught her attention. Absent from the recipe collection was her fried chicken recipe, a family classic upon which my core memories of family were built.
My Granny Alice passed away 19 years ago almost to the date as I write this. I was young, in high school, and not yet a cook. She united our family with comfort food. She was a lunch lady in the local school district and brought the experience of cooking for large groups home to her family. We’d line up assembly-line-style pouring into the kitchen and wait for her to fill our dinner plates with mashed potatoes, gravy, and her signature fried chicken.
As an adult, I found myself living a life that paralleled hers; a love of cooking, a tiny kitchen and sharing comfort food classics to bring joy. I believed that the only way to connect to my Granny Alice was if I held her actual recipe and read her handwriting. For years my mother had tried to teach me her mother’s fried chicken recipe. Early on, I’d learn by observing from the table several feet away, then the next time I’d participate in one step of the recipe. It seemed hard and something I’d never full grasp. Then I started attempting it on my own. I’d send photos to my mom, asking for guidance and on more than one occasion, asking her to drive over to taste it.
Then it finally hit me. I didn’t need a recipe card with the recipe to be connected to my grandmother. The simple act of eating the fried chicken reminded me of her. Every time I made the recipe, every time my mom and I talked about the recipe, we’d think about her, and we were instantly connected.
No recipe card needed; her memory was in our hearts.
The beauty of food memories is that we can instantly be transported back to the time we spent with the loved ones we’ve lost.
Apple cider made with Tang makes me think of Grandma Diane.
Sweet cottage cheese pie makes me think of Grandpa Arnie.
Red Licorice (or as she called them, Swizzle Sticks) makes me think of Aunt Marie.
These food memories surface all through the year, and the beauty is that we can summon the memories with the special foods and instantly connect with those we have lost. We don’t need the actual recipes – the memories reside in our hearts and our hands when we prepare the food that bring back the joy. The holidays tend to be a time when those beautiful food memories surface. How perfect is it that the foods we eat are comfort food classics, because remembering loved ones through food give me comfort. I hope it does the same for you.
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ABOUT ALICE: Alice Seuffert is a Minnesota mom, wife, education researcher, and blogger at Dining with Alice, where she shares her food and family adventures. She works full-time as an education researcher for a Twin Cities nonprofit organization. On her blog, she shares her adventures making creative comfort food, her experiences as a mom, and fun activities like enjoying craft beer. Alice is the Kitchen Star on the Twin Cities television show, Twin Cities Live and is known for her creative comfort food recipes and tips for busy parents.
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Remembering Loved Ones Through Food was written by Alice Seuffert exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.
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