Recording Your Family’s History Through Food

What is your favorite food memory? 

Was it the time your grandmother made mashed potatoes and told you to lick the whisk before your mom came in the room? Or was it that special dish your aunt would only make once a year on a special occasion?

Whatever your history might be, your sense of memory and taste are as intertwined as the connections we create with one another around food.

Our family’s recipes are often the foundation of our shared history, nourishing our bodies and our spirit one plate at a time. But how do we hold on to the unique memories created by food?

I’ve gathered a few quick and easy ways to collect your family’s food history.

Make a list of each family member and their favorite dish

If your family is anything like mine, every person has their favorite dish and equally strong opinion to go along with it. Your son LOVES your pecan pie, but your youngest daughter thinks it’s disgusting and won’t touch it.

Do you remember that year your mom burned the turkey, but you still ate it? Even the “bad” food memories can be fun — Journal your stories. By listing your family members and their favorite dish (or the dish you remember being their favorite), you connect with old family memories.

Good recipe or bad, the memory is what joins the family together.

Revisit old photos through the context of food

Another easy way to collect your family’s food memories is to look through old photos and notice what’s on the table. Often the old images that fill our albums are from parties, holidays, and special events. During these family gatherings, we share and celebrate with food.

Next time you revisit your old family photos, take an extra minute to glance behind the beehive hair and polyester pants and take a look at the food on the table. Those dishes are your lineage just as much as the faces smiling back at you.

Take the time to relive and appreciate who made the dip you had three servings of at your baby brother’s baptism party. By reliving memories through food, you will reconnect with the family that made those memories special.

Reach out to family members

Food is not only a fantastic way to keep your family’s history alive, but it is also a simple and easy way to create your family’s shared future. By calling your aunt, who uses all the family recipes, and simply asking how to make a dish you remember fondly, you are building new memories by honoring the old.

All it takes is a phone call about a recipe to reconnect, tighten the family bond, and ensure your family’s stories in the future.

Recreate the recipes you watch grandparents make 

Remember when you were a young child sitting at the kitchen table, watching your grandmother cook. What was she making? How does the kitchen smell?

Most of us have childhood memories centered around our family’s food legacy, but some of those recipes we lose to time. By recreating your childhood’s defining dishes, you create new memories with your family while honoring your past shared experiences.

You might not remember exactly how your family made the dish, but you are honoring your family lineage through food regardless if you ever find a perfect match.

Recipes offer an in-depth, tangible reminder of your family’s history and journey together. By taking the time to explore and journal beyond the food-stained recipe cards and age-worn spiral-notebooks, you can continue to grow your legacy while honoring the past.

Without taking the time to journal your food memories, you risk losing your family legacy to time.

Want to capture your family recipes in a beautiful collection? Go here to find out how to get started!

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      The Kin Keepers are those family members who know all the family’s stories, and pass them along to the next generations.  They remember the birthdays, plan the celebrations, and make the calls to see that everyone is okay. Their spirit of kinship is what keeps the family together and strong

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