A Story of Our Mothers and Food
This is something different for a blog post, one that digs into the past and reflects on our (myself and hubby Matt's) mothers and our memories of food in our lives before we ventured off onto our adult foodie adventures. A special Mother's Day post.
Dear Mom (In Canada it would be blasphemy to spell it "Mum" ;))
Thank you for teaching me how to cook and also how to love it. I'm pretty sure you did so without thinking about it too much because it came so naturally to you. I often hear myself saying to friends that "my love language is making food for you, that's how I show I care", and I see so clearly that you are to thank for this. I remember getting SO excited as a kid to go to your (adult) friends' houses for dinner parties or special occasions because I knew how much everyone would love your food and talk about Laury's rice, or Laury's Lemon Dessert, or Laury's 7-layer dip (sound familiar anyone?) ...or the banana bread, the cinnamon buns, the Russian chicken... the list could go on. The bonus was of course getting to eat it. :)
I know it wasn't always easy by any means and that despite any times you were unwell or just plain over it, you still had dinner on the table by 5:30pm, every single night. Meat, 3 veg or salad, and a carb/starch. Getting to sit down an eat together as a family was really important to you and I am so deeply grateful for that. In my work these days I see so very many families under the pump managing schedules that the kids eat on their own before Mum & Dad. I didn't realise how much we learned about food, how to eat what is given to you, manners, ettiquette, conversation, and life, sitting around a dinner table together. I wish this for all families, even if they can only make it happen on weekends, at least it's a start.
Do you remember the time my friend Jen came over (we might have been 13?) and opened the pantry and stood there for awhile looking at the very top shelf where all the lollies, licorice, chips, and other treats were? She looked at me in disbelief and asked if they were the same lollies, licorice, chips and treats that were there last time she was over, and the time before that? There were still Halloween and Easter candies from months back. I said "yes, why?". She absolutely could not believe that they didn't get devoured as soon as they appeared, like in her household, where they had now resorted to labelling all food with who it belonged to. My Brother and I simply didn't have thoughts or cravings for that stuff because Mom's food tasted better anyways (or maybe the ground rules were just really well laid??? ;)). Thank you for nourishing our bodies so that we knew the difference from a young age.
Amongst all the numerous and other sub-conscious learnings that were in my whole experience of food growing up, here are some of the other memories that I need to thank you for while I'm at it:
I CAN cook a turkey for my fellow Uni residence friends that weren't able to go home for Thanksgiving either. Carrying a 10lb. turkey 5 blocks in -20 degree weather with other groceries made me appreciate it more - and made my fingers nearly fall off.
Food waste is not necessary or OK. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl CLEAN, grab all the grated food bits from in and around the grater, and remember that there is always a way to salvage a meal - or at least have fun with it (rock hard pancake "frisbees" had us howling for hours).
The experience of eating home-canned Okanagan peaches, that I got to help make at 6 yrs old, in the middle of winter simply cannot be beat. WOW! Please everyone put that on your bucket list, or at least try a fresh Okanagan Peach in August once in your life.
A treat should be a treat, not a daily expectation. And, treats nowadays are more frankenfood than "treat" in the eyes of our bodies anyways. The best "treats" I remember, over and above the lollies, chips etc. were experiences as much as they were food-related; picking fresh raspberries from the raspberry bush in the morning before school; eating a just-picked kohlrabi (like a turnip-cross-nashi?) with a sprinkle of salt while still in the garden; and sneaking Mom's Lemon meringue pie for breakfast.
Who would have thought how many families you would be positively ripple-effecting today, simply by teaching your daughter how to love and prepare real food. Thank you Mom! :)
My Mum, Robyn, was a wonderful home cook, and whilst raising our family (5 kids!) was a stay at home mum, running the household and herding us all around to events, sport and music practice. The first memory of food that sticks with me is being served dinner in the mid-80's under candle light (power outages were experienced in Queensland as Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen fought with the Electrical Trades Union regarding employment agreements), Mum decided to take advantage of the fact that we couldn't really see what was on our plates and managed to put a serving of choko on each of our plates. I seem to recall the ruse worked, and we accidentally ate some, and so began a life of working out how to get her children to eat their vegetables without the backup of blackouts.
Mum's menu was tried and true, once she worked out the family favourites (Spag Bol, Chilli Con Carne, Cornish Pastry Pies, Fried Rice, Fritters) she mastered these, and then taught us how to make them as soon as we could! Consistency seemed to work in our household, but I think it was because when Mum was working full time time she was simply so time-and-headspace-poor. From waking up, herding the kids onto the school bus, driving to work, working, driving home to pick up one of us to go to sport/music lessons, to grocery shopping, to then driving home with us in tow and THEN preparing dinner (sound familiar?). Upon reflection, Mum (and Dad) were absolute super humans to be able to function with this schedule, and still put a home cooked meal on the table. Takeaway rarely happened (have you seen the bill for a family of seven for takeaway?!).
Mum, probably with the thought of leverage at the time, also taught us how to prepare dinner for the family as soon as we could. This skill set was something that shone when I left university college to live on my own, my housemates were amazed at the range of meals that I prepared each week. Please teach your kids the skill of preparing whole food meals, get them to love the art of cooking.
It's amazing to think about my life of food, and how home prepared meals have been a mainstay in my life, it's a tale that parents with young children should reflect on. The food habits that you start now will flow on to your children's adulthood.
So - for Mum, THANK YOU for taking the time and effort to nourish us - for sacrificing your time to ensure we had a meal on the table. Next time we catch up I'll have to try and remember one of your recipes and make it for you! I will forever be grateful for the energy and love you put into our meal times, and will remember fondly "Mum's meals".