I have been off work for a couple weeks recovering from carpal tunnel surgery, and have had more time than usual to watch my favorite morning TV shows. This week in particular, I noticed more food TV personalities sharing memories of the food they ate during their childhood. The Chew aired an entire show about ‘grandma’s greatest hits‘, and each host shared a memory of their own childhood.
On her morning show, Rachael Ray shared her grandpa’s favorite recipe for ‘garlic and oil spaghetti with kale and almonds‘ and told her audience about growing up in a multi-generational household. The more she spoke about her grandpa the more emotional she became … which caused me to tear up, too. One thing she said stuck with me – food connects our generations. I couldn’t agree more! And this is one of the reasons why I think it’s so important for young people to learn how to cook. Even if it is only one or two family favorites.
Food connects our family
Food that we prepare for our own families is often what we were raised eating, which is often what our parents and sometimes grandparents were raised eating. Every time I make potato salad I think of helping my own grandma make bucket loads of potato salad for picnics or family gatherings. I also think of the yellow 1950s Pyrex bowl that she always searched potato salad in for those gatherings! I once overheard my grandpa tell my mom that I was the only one in the family who could make potato salad as good as Grandma … I’m not sure how my mom felt about that!
Food connects us to our past
Not only does food bring back memories of our childhood, it can easily connect us to our heritage. My German heritage stays at the forefront in my life simply because I fix the same meals that Mom and Grandma – and on back – prepared for their own families. I take a small amount of pride in sharing those same meals with my daughter … even though she doesn’t always like them!
Let’s get beyond our own heritage for a moment. Learning how to prepare food from different cultures gives us an opportunity to learn about other places and the people who live there. Even in the USA, where immigrants from many different countries and cultures settled throughout our history, I can stay somewhat close to home and still learn about other cultures through food. It can be a fascinating and educational adventure! If traveling is out of the budget, simply trying a new recipe and sharing it with your family or friends is a great way to learn a little something about another culture.
Food certainly connects us to our families and to our past. But, ultimately food connects all of us as a people.