Throughout my life it’s always come back to my family. I know I’m fortunate to have people in my life that love me because of my eccentricities, partially because they’re also responsible for this. I come from a very big, loud, and opinionated Mormon clan. My mom has four brothers and my dad has two sisters and two brothers.
I have lots of first cousins and there are five of us born within a three-year span of one another and we always hung around and chased each other throughout childhood. My Aunt Claudia has been a constant supporter of my dreams and as I grew into adulthood she became my feminist icon and basically my other mother.
Family is not without tears and trials though. Since we’re all so big and loud and opinionated there are a lot of butting heads on my dad’s side. I also had a falling out with my dad last summer that’s still slowly undergoing repairs. And me being three thousand miles away often has me aching for the presence of those that make me laugh and those that feed me good food.
This is seeping into my writing. As I continue to study food writing, reading books of late like Signe Johansen’s Solo and Bee Wilson’s First Bite, I am reminded how cooking is firmly rooted in family and groups for so many of us. Attending lectures at the British Library’s Food Season, it is the theme throughout all talks. Food is love and food is family. We’re food writers because we discovered this passion at the feet of our family members throughout our formative memories.
In How to Cook a Dragon, my work in progress for my PhD in Creative Writing, I have two characters who in their first chapters are on the outs with their families. One because they are a source of their anxiety disorder and the other because he has chosen love over the traditions of his people to only marry within their own magical race. Yes, it is probably an allegory for both interracial marriage and LGBTQ 20th century issues. I do not deny that is a large part of my outlook that churches should mind their own damn business about consensual pairings. (But that’s another blog post for another day and another novel that’s on the backburner.)
But family, I find I have to give my characters back their families as well. Most wounds heal with time. Good memories often win out over the bad. Few slights are so severe that they can’t be repaired with more good memories.
Even though both my parents worked, I have so many memories of the kitchen table. Of pot roasts with beef from my Grandpa Forbes’s farm and cobs of corn picked hours before slathered in butter. The summer get-togethers with my Grandma T’s brownies with their sweet penuche-like frosting and my Mom’s pasta salads have been peaking in my thoughts as summer descends on Cambridge.
The long winter is over; us sweet summer children are ready for the fruits of the sun. (Take that GRRM)
Michael Pollan asked in his last book, “For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
Because of the distance I’ll write about food and family and love. And continue to share my memories and self-discoveries through food and cheer and prose.
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