I have such vivid memories of visiting my grandparents when I was little. The smooth whir of pavement turning to the rumble of cobblestones a block away from their house. The sweet scent of sycamore as we turned up the drive. And, of course, the pot of Nan’s barbecue–my grandma’s version of a sloppy Joe–which in some unspoken agreement between she and I had become the de facto welcome dish for our visits.
Yesterday, as we made the cross-country trek for a visit with my daughter’s grandma (yes, that would be my Mom), I wondered what sensations about going to see Grandma and Grandpa would stick for Noemi. And, more to the point, what dish would establish itself between my mother and my daughter as the one that says, “I am so glad you’re here” in the universal love-language of food.
We Americans, so independent and progressive in our ways, can give the impression that we’re just not interested in the traditions born in the kitchen and passed down from generation to generation. But we are. Memories of food, unique in the way they engage all our senses, nestle themselves deep within us and shape us in significant ways. Just think of what your grandma used to have simmering on the stove or baking in the oven when you walked through the door and you’ll see how powerful they are. But the torch (or the pot, or the corn cob, or the ice cream maker) has been passed to us. Now we have the opportunity to carry on–or create entirely new–food traditions with the little ones in our lives so that they have their own to cherish.
This week, as we roll into summer and a season full of family gatherings, ponder what traditions you’d like to pass on.