Well you ask me
to sing you a love song
and I smile ‘n say
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.