Smells and scents unleash some of our deepest memories. That is why we feel a deep agitation when we enjoy those comfort foods from our childhood. Mine are the roast beef, potatoes and carrots my grandmother has made, and my wife’s brother goes crazy every time my mother-in-law makes Italian biscuits as her mother taught her. Whatever they are, these recipes are not just pieces of paper. They are part of your past, part of your memories, keys to unraveling some of our deepest and most affectionate moments in childhood (or adulthood).
My mother gave me the gift of my grandmother’s most beloved recipes. Many people have learned to cook with them, but some like my great memere‘s recipe (a French Canadian meat – oh, so good on toast or thick biscuits) were lost to me until my mother took the recipe from one of the aunts. I could not wait to do my first batch. The moment I bit my first bite, I was brought back to my great friend’s house with the 1980’s tile, the steep steps in the upper rooms, and the popper game I always played while at home. Oh, the memories!
So, first I tell you, write down those comfort food recipes that mean a lot to your family. Give them as gifts for your children. So simply write them in your own writing.
All our family kids were together for Christmas, so I decided to make one of Grandma’s recipes. I chose the Ricotta Cake recipe. As all the “kids” (all adults) enjoyed the ricotta cake, they talked about how they remembered the taste of the cake from childhood. Thinking about the childhood led us to talk about grandma and grandpa and the time they spent with Grandma’s strollers watching her make homemade tortellini and other classic Italian dishes. I think the cake and the resurrection of those great memories was one of the best gifts I have ever given or received.