Love Song in a Foreign Language

Well you ask me
to sing you a love song
and I smile ‘n say
Hold on
Let me think
~Melissa Ferrick, Love Song

And then I sing you a love song in a foreign language-the language of food, of recipes.You know this blog is your love song. You can pick out the words and hear the tune. But, will you ever understand it? I think you do now.

You have learned the words and the tunes. You have watched my movements as I flip through cookbooks, plan meals and dance my messy way through the kitchen. Just in case…let me explain a bit more because as I thought about how to talk about this curious mixture of love and recipes…I learned more about myself, you, and those whose recipes I cook.

Joseph says I cook because I love. Is that his epiphany or mine? Both I think. I do. I cook to woo. I cook to nourish. I cook to teach. I cook to love. Meals can show off. Meals can feed people. Most of all, my meals are a hug, a kiss, a wink, a thank you, a caress, and the recipes the love songs that play in my cooking.

That is the draw of old cookbooks and recipe cards. Sure, the commercial ones with their funny pictures and fussy ideas on keeping a home amuse me. The ones that sing to me though come from Junior Leagues, churches, Women’s Auxiliaries, ones handwritten on a recipe card, ones with names attached. Those women share the love songs they sang to their families and their friends through their cooking. The ingredients may be foreign or impossible to find in these times. (celery Jell-o for example) The ingredients may just hide behind another name: oleo, xxxx sugar, #2 cans.

But listen to the tune…you know this love song. This is the dinner made for a mother with a newborn. This is the cake made to celebrate a son’s birthday…his favorite. These are the pork chops and potato pancakes counted on to bring a smile to her father-in-law’s face. These cookies sing holiday tunes with Mama in the kitchen with excited children. She tucks these memories away as she tucks the cookies in tins to give to her friends. Recipes sing the love song of a cocktail party or a brunch filled with laughter and friends.The recipe that makes a full meal out of stale bread, an egg and a few slices of cheese? This is a longing love song to feed a family with a bare pantry and days to go before a paycheck.

This recipe? The chocolate fudge pie? It sings a love song of a mother distracting a brokenhearted teen daughter when she learned that not all friendships are forever. Look at this one! It is the recipe for the aspic that great-grandmother made for Sunday dinner. She never said I love you out loud…but she always had a cake on the glass cake stand in the dining room for you. Maybe the Lemon Cheese Cake? The Caramel Cake? Or the beautiful, slightly wicked Devil’s Food cake. Love.

This blog, these recipes, are my love song, their love song, a chorus of voices singing to you. Everything from my kitchen has heard my love song…from the mushroom dish to the hashbrown casserole to Mommy’s specialty and each family member’s special foods. Even the asparagus Jell-o, though no one liked the tune.

So, hold on, let me think, how strange at 39, I am sharing this love song.

Comments

  1. Thank you. Beautiful.

  2. Thank you for putting into words the way that I feel.

  3. LOVE this! Before my great-aunt died, she made a cookbook for all of the women in our family comprised of recipes from each one. I love to think about the histories and traditions each recipe has. It isn’t a surprise that most of my memories of the important women in my life include food somehow.
    Great, great post!

  4. Okay it is not fair to send me posts which make me cry at work.

    Since I have also danced the same dance with many of the same recipe cards and cookbooks, I am intimately familiar with the notes, the tune, the words and this song vibrates quietly in my head everyday.

    This love song is a song that never ends and threads its way through our family as surely as any other attribute passed down through genetics. It is a part of our family’s genome.

    Food and cooking are so complicated in our family because the process and the results are so firmly wrapped up in the definition of who we are. I hum and sing quietly as I cook. I use a spatula for our great grandmother’s kitchen every day. I hear the echoes of her kitchen in mine every time I use my standing mixer.

    Our family always makes sure no one leaves the table hungry. That food taken to friends, neighbors those in need or grief will wrap them in our own version of therapeutic hugging.

    Thank you for reminding of the song and the glory of cooking. Not the chore. Not the OMG what’s for dinner? But the joy, the love, the glory the family.

  5. Rochelle says:

    Wonderful post with such heart felt thoughts. Thank you.