Bookmarks–May 14, 2023

In this Mother’s Day edition of Bookmarks: culinary legacies and the healing power of cooking. 

My grandmother taught me that food Is fundamental to sovereignty

A wonderful story of reclaiming a food. It’s so valuable to see things from different perspectives, like that of the writer and her grandmother. 

Families make experiences for their kids, and in so many of the community spaces I’ve been, I’ve seen older generations ease their own painful memories by making joy for their children. I think about how remaking oatmeal and making it luxurious, hot, delicious, erased their suffering and replaced it with what should have been there all along–comfort, fullness. A meal eaten with family instead of in cafeterias miles and months from home.” (Chatelaine)

When my husband left me, I headed for the kitchen – here’s how comfort food can save the soul

I saw on Twitter that this article had won a writing award. I shared it there and wanted to include it here too. Although written last year, its theme is timeless and very affecting: how food and the act of cooking can provide emotional healing when dealing with grief, loss, illness or trauma.

“People talk about ‘comfort food’ as if it were a kind of trivial indulgence. But this is missing the point. True comfort food isn’t sticky toffee pudding on a cosy night in, or sausages and mash on a crisp cold night. It’s the deeply personal flavours and textures you turn to when life has punched you in the gut. Comfort food should really be called trauma food. It’s what you cook and eat to remind you you’re alive when you are not entirely sure this is true.” (The Guardian

How traditional Chinese medicine combines health and culinary traditions

So much “healthy” eating advice is focused on deprivation and strict rules. As Ms. Gong says here, her approach is more about flexibility and joy, focused on eating the foods you love.

…she is redefining what healthy food looks, smells, tastes, and, most importantly, feels like. There are no protein shakes or one-size-fits-all supplements, no turmeric ‘elixirs,’ detox juices, or shame-inducing diet regimes. Instead, there are dishes that satisfy as well as nourish, like hearty bowls of soba noodles in a bone broth fortified with angelica root and desserts of sweet rice and black sesame porridge.” (Food & Wine)

A Stranger In My Mother’s Kitchen

A Stranger in My Mother’s Kitchen is not yet published in Canada, but coming this summer. 

She wanted to feel the warmth of eating her mother’s food again, to feel the sense of being nurtured and cared for once more. The recipes were haunted with memories; the smells took her back to moments they shared like nothing else, and the more she continued the more she felt connected to her mother…But this is not a cookbook. ‘A Stranger in my Mother’s Kitchen’ is a book that shares a universal story of loss whilst also celebrating a food legacy.” (Millennium Images)

Life in the margins–the bonds created by recipe scribbles and notations

I’m quoting myself here, which may be bad form, but I wrote this last year around Mother’s Day to talk about what is being lost when we no longer collect paper copies of recipes. It is something I think about often. Marginalia, as it is called in historical documents, is where we find personal touches and links to the person who owned and shared a book or collection of recipes. How do those connections survive in our online world?  

Where do handwritten adjustments, substitutions, and random notes fit in today’s world of online recipes, where favourites are often shared by link, not by an exchange of paper? What happens when there is no physical artifact, when the bond is based on something as transitory as a website, which can vanish or be forever altered with a few clicks of a mouse?” (Supperstruck)

Image of books: 150913504 © Dzhamilia Ermakova |

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