Your Family Food Lore

 Preserving Your Family Food Lore


 By Karen Pierce Gonzalez


Got culinary wizards are in your family? Regardless of whether or not they were gourmet chefs, the people in your family who have cooked and/or served your favorite – or not favorite - foods make for wonderful food stories.


So why not turn your remembrances of Aunt Rose, Grandpa Joe in the kitchen or at the grill into the stuff of food lore? These kitchen kings, queens and paupers may have had a way with food that for one reason or another was unforgettable and preserving them can be as simple as spreading jam on bread.


Food lore is a folklore category that refers to the food way beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a group of people that can be shared (word of mouth, short stories, etc.). Your food lore - funny, happy, sad - tells others about special people, places, and events in your life.


For example, my cousin Douglas wrote a humorous food tale about the summer his dad made zucchini ice cream. In the 1940’s the old-fashioned hand cranked ice cream maker had been the highlight of their family summer.


My Uncle Bob’s explorations of various foods as ice cream flavors left Douglas uninterested in ice cream of any kind. What kid doesn’t love the creamy texture and rich taste of vanilla, strawberries and/or chocolate, right? But surplus garden zucchini?


Douglas’ story captured my uncle’s curious creativity not only for himself but for his children and grandchildren who never knew him.


The boyfriend of a woman I know placed an engagement ring inside a bag of flour he picked up for her on his way home from work. It wasn’t until she got ready to bake a cake that she discovered his ‘proposal’. That’s a food tale worth telling again and again.


Celebrate the family food lore moments of your life by writing them down or recording them. Start with notes about a family reunion, wedding, or campfire meal then expand those notes into paragraphs. Add recipes if available. In no time at all you will have chronicled your unique family food lore.


Karen Pierce Gonzalez is author of the newly revised Family Folktales: What are Yours?

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