The house is full of my mom today. The cinnamonny smell of her candied sweet potatoes, the herby aroma of her stuffing. I miss her a lot, but her presence is real at our table.
I’ve always told my food and politics students to sit down with their parents and grandparents and write down the family recipes that make them who they are, because parents and grandparents
(and indeed college students) come with sell-by dates and when it is too late it is too late: Grandma’s ginger cookies will only be a sweet and spicy memory.
A few of them know what I am talking about. Chances are they learned to cook in the family kitchen or lost someone who is no longer here to teach them. Most of them look at me blankly,
sure of their immortality and that of their moms and dads. Why would they want to collect recipes for crying out loud? They have better, way more fun things to do.
So I’ve made it an assignment — they have to create a family food tree, complete with recipes. I justify it in the name of identity politics. It thrills their grandparents to have the
kid call and ask about food memories and recipes and someday, it’s going to thrill that kid too.
Just like I am thrilled today. Happy Thanksgiving all!