What is Your Food Legacy?

family dinner
We often take our senses for granted. But without them, our lives and memories would be so much duller.

Have you ever smelled a particular smell or heard a song on the radio, and it takes you right back in time? I know I have. I can hear a song from the radio from the 70’s, and I immediately think back to that day in Junior High when a boy I had a crush on was singing that song and playing the “air guitar” before class.

Or the song that was playing on the radio when I had my first date.

Or I can smell gardenias and remember that magical night when I graduated. I remember coming home from the graduation ceremony and changing into my party clothes and smelling the gardenias that grew under my bedroom window. The smell brings back those feelings of being young, excited about the fun party I would be going to, and the feeling of being free from the shackles of high school and having my whole life ahead of me.

The smell of certain foods bring back the same kind of memories.

The smell of pot roast reminds me of my grandmother’s country kitchen. She died when I was young. My younger sister doesn’t even remember her. I don’t remember much about her but I do remember she always wore an apron and she had the coolest looking old country kitchen. I remember sitting on a tall stool in her kitchen while she was preparing Sunday dinner which was usually a pot roast, with potatoes, carrots and onions, and homemade biscuits. Those smells remind me of my Mamal and it brings back feelings of being loved and comforted.

My dad was the cook in our family and he cooked in the country Southern style. He was a great cook. He made great green beans with ham hocks, beef stew, cole slaw, corn bread and pepper steak among many other dishes. If I smell anything that smells like my dad’s cooking it reminds me of my dad who has been gone 3 years now and who I miss so much.

I’m not a fantastic cook like my father and grandmother were but I am adequate and I do have some specialties that I make really well. These will be my food legacies for my children and grandchildren.

I make a mean lasagna. It was actually the first dish I learned to cook. I was 11 and in 6th grade Home Economics class and my assignment was to make lasagna and serve it to a family member. My dad took off work and was my guinea pig family member and I remember how proud I was to serve him like I was the little hostess. I had the table set the proper way and the cloth napkin neatly folded on the plate.

I served ice tea, a garden salad and garlic bread with the lasagna. My dad ate every bite and praised me for how delicious it was. I beamed with pride imagining myself as the next Julia Child or at least a great cook like my father.

It wasn’t until after he left that I tried the lasagna myself and realized my mistake. The recipe had called for 2 tablespoons of sugar and I mistakenly used salt. The lasagna was extremely salty and inedible. And yet, my sweet dad ate every bite.

I have improved in my lasagna making skills over the last 40 years and have developed my own recipe. I often serve it on holidays and other special occasions. I am sure my kids will always think of me and the special times we ate lasagna whenever they smell it for the rest of their lives.  I have several other dishes that I make really well that will also invoke those memories for my kids.

Now that I have a granddaughter, I often let her “help” me in the kitchen when I am cooking. I want her to feel the love and comfort that I felt in my grandmother’s kitchen.  We make chocolate chip cookies together and I hope that will be one of my food legacies for her.

So what are you food legacies? Do you have special dishes that you make that will forever remind your family of you? What are they? I’d love to know!


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