Why I Write of Food and Family: The Importance of the Traditions That Bind Us
Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.— Mark Kurlansky, 'Choice Cuts' (2002)
It is said that no two people are alike.
Billions of souls have inhabited our planet, each one possessing their own unique beliefs and viewpoints, loves and desires.
But despite our differences, there are two activities shared by all of us which are central, actually vital to our being—our first action when taken from the womb is to breath...
...the next is to eat.
Food is our common ground, a universal experience.— James Beard
But eating is far more than simple sustenance in our daily lives. Food is how we connect with others. At a shared table, families connect—events of the day are exchanged, children learn, relationships are nurtured, and dreams blossom. Food is present when we celebrate milestones; it is shared when we assist those in need and is commonly provided as comfort to the bereaved.
My fascination with the importance, the heritage, and the folklore of food began years ago in my mother’s kitchen. It started with curiosity—watching my mother at work. Cookbooks sat on the shelf but I never saw them being used. It seemed that every measurement, every action was known, memorized, and almost involuntary. Our meals were simple, but they were nourishing, comforting, and I knew instinctively that they were handed down from the previous generation to our own. I knew that the food my mother made for us was a piece of her childhood, and of the children before her, and so on, and so on.
When we share our recipes, we share not only our traditions and backgrounds—we share the memories that formed us and make us who we are.
When prepared with care and conscience food can be magic—a true case of the whole exceeding the sum of its parts. Food is an art form, an amalgam of tastes and textures spanning centuries of time.
Eating is the common denominator of mankind, the one activity in which we share a mutual bond.
We may be separated by culture and continent, but food is the language that unites. Food is a part of who we are and what we have been; it is our history. Food has a story to tell.
© 2017 Linda Lum