Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Recipe

Take one type of food or a certain combination of foods. 
 Prepare in a way that a special person has prepared the food for you in the past.
 Eat it with others who knew the person or as you reminisce.
 SERVES:  to help us feel "Belonging"

Food links us to people in the past.  The stuffed mushrooms that grandma used to make or the fried chicken uncle charlie enjoyed remind us.  Just the smell , and for sure the taste, can take us back. 
Food links us to people in the present.  The caramel corn that is Dad's favorite or the way Mom tears pieces of bread and puts them in her chicken soup as she eats it, give us familiarity and a sense of understanding other people , as they understand you . 
We belong in the kitchen, we belong at the table with our memories of the past and we belong with the family members of the present. 

Flavors and memories are woven together and are part of a family's identity.  We are conditioned as children to enjoy certain tastes on our pallet.  We belong to a particular culture and family and the food links us.  As  Jennie Geisler from the Erie Times-News  said  "...mom's mashed potatoes don't just taste good, they become a comforting reminder that we belong somewhere".

So, after our parents divorce, adult children, may have to train ourselves to enjoy certain tastes on our pallets again.  Foods that had been associated with my father , or with his family, seemed distasteful to me for a few years after my parents divorced.  It was almost as if the negative feelings I was experiencing changed the taste of foods that carried memories and I began to not even WANT to eat things that reminded me of him . It brought the pain that his decisions had caused back to my mind.   Recipe cards,  of dishes his mother had made,  in my recipe box sat unused for a few years because taking them out and making the recipe made me grieve for my grandmother.  She was not here to know or feel the sadness or disappointment that I knew she would sense if she were here.  I wouldn't want her to know what had happened in our family or feel the way I did, so somehow, not making the recipe seemed to help protect her, too.

Recipes convey belonging.  And many adult children of divorce question where they belong now.
We belong in the past to a point as we do remember the good in the family and the meals, dishes, sharing that we did experience.  And we belong in the present...which means for a time, we may not be able to taste delicacies that stir memories. But eventually we realize we belong to the future, too.
As adults we have a choice to help  preserve the good in the family in many ways.  This may include making the chocolate drop cookies that mom used to make before she left the family for a new man. 
Making and eating the cookies can help you sift through memories and retain the good ones.  Maybe adding some bits of chopped cherries or some almonds will put a new twist on something old. And in the process, some healing may occur as you discover a different, but acceptable sense of belonging.

Take one type of food or a certain combination of foods.
Prepare in a way that a special person has prepared the food for you in the past.
Add a new ingredient to add a sense of newness and freshness to an old idea.
Preserve the old and enjoy the new.
Eat it with others who have experienced the love and loss of someone special.
SERVES:  to help us feel we still do "belong".

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