Food was an important part of my family's life. On a holiday people would get up at 5 am, cook for days, and 6 or more people would always be in the kitchen. There would always be an argument at some point about who would make the gravy this year, because everyone thought theirs was the best. And as a child, I can tell you, they all tasted different (my mom's was the best, Aunt Josie's was too thick, and Gramma's tasted like it had too much flour.) But food was about family. You cooked and baked to feed the family you loved, and sometimes hated. If one dish you made became someone's "favorite" you were supposed to make that dish forever, at every holiday, until you die. But, we would all have the recipe, so if someone did die, their dish would live on, and we as a family would continue to make it as if they were still around. It keeps you in the family. There is a beautiful legacy with food. If you create something special, people will continue to make it, to keep you a part of the family forever. I like the idea of that. People live a lot of their lives trying to be remembered. Be famous, change the world, write a book. To live on forever. But with family and cooking, everyone can live on forever. It's so simple.
I remember watching my Gramma rolling out her dough, to make her famous Chicken Dumplin's. But, they were never dumplings, they were noodles. She would roll out the dough, and cut long strips with a knife. It was the best thing you ever ate. Or her famous Custard Pie, which I now make. Or Grandpa's Homemade ice cream, which only got made once a year for The 4th of July. We would always ask him to make it, but he never would. We didn't just celebrate the independence of our nation on that holiday, we celebrated the food we had to wait a WHOLE YEAR to eat.
My great-Grandma Neva Goss "nana"was born in 1900, and died in 1996. I had her until I was 16 years old. She lived through the first world war, the depression, the second world war, ect. She spent her life in a kitchen, taught her daughter, and they taught me. When Nana died, I remember sitting around a table with all my extended family, while my Aunt Wanda made Nana's famous Apple Dumplin's. We all ate them straight out of the oven. I even remember burning my tongue. Even though her body was gone, she was in the room with us because her food was.
Tomorrow we bury Bettye Ruth. We may be burying her body, but her food will live on in this family forever. My pies are being made because of Gramma and Nana.
My family has died, or has moved away. We don't have Sunday lunches after church anymore, hell, we don't GO to church anymore. Even holidays are spread out between spouse's families. But what we always have, and will always be with us, are a handful of recipes that brought our family together. We can make them, and talk about all the wonderful times we had when they were here with us.