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My Family Shows Love Through Food

 
A portion of the food at my family’s Independence Day fish fry. Pretty standard meal.

My siblings and I have a food rating system where we rank food based on how much love is put into it. Most people wouldn’t understand, especially if food is not a Big Deal in family gatherings. You can actually taste the amount of love that someone puts into food they make. It’s why cakes and pies from the store are never as good as the ones you make at home; the person making them generally doesn’t care.

I’m from a sizable Southern family where the star of any family gathering is the delicious food. We don’t joke around with food. Everything is crafted with love and experience, from the dessert bar to the 3 main courses, to the 30 different sides.

Every cake, pie, truffle, and cookie is lovingly hand-crafted. If you join my family for any sort of visit, you will be asked “You want somethin’ to eat?”

Thanksgiving Dessert pt.1

Whether you say yes or no, you’ll be handed a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, a smile, and a sweet: “Oh hon, you looked hungry.”

Thanksgiving Dessert pt. 2

The ladies in my family put up vegetables and pickles they pick from the gardens they’ve labored over all summer. Everything is picked, cleaned, bagged, and canned with love.

Putting up corn and pickles in Nanny’s kitchen.

Out of all my visits back home, one of my favorite memories was making some blackberry jelly with my mom on my first trip back. We had the blackberry juice pristine before we added the Sure-Jell and we made some of the prettiest jelly ever. We had 1 little jar that wasn’t quite full of jelly, so we ate it warm on toast with some milk.

Warm jelly on toast with milk = delicious!

I attempted to ship the jelly back via FedEx as I had flown down. Unfortunately, the jelly never made it back to me. When I called FedEx, they asked how much the jelly was worth. The only answer I could give was “Well, to me, it’s priceless.” How could I explain that this jelly was a way for me to transport some of my mom’s love back home to Montana so I could eat a teaspoon-full whenever I felt homesick?

I often cook family recipes now to feel a little closer to my family despite living over 1,700 miles away. Alhough I don’t have the full experience and knowledge of my elders, I never short change anyone on love when it comes to the food I create. So anyone who finds themselves sitting in my kitchen will get the same experience I get back at home: warmth, love, and good food.

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Members have made 30 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Gary McVey Member

    Ohh, what fantastic food! I’d move up to Reagan class membership if the privileges included ordering southern cooking delivered via rocket from the Bible Belt.

    Now, don’t be offended, mountain west, I define the bible Belt broadly. Actually, after passing the age of sixty, I’ve defined my own belt more broadly, or I wouldn’t be saying, “Damn! I’ll have some of that!”

    • #1
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm
    • Like13 likes
  2. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    J.D. Snapp: The ladies in my family put up vegetables and pickles

    You can tell it’s for real if they say ‘put up’ instead of can.

    My Grandma used to put up everything under the sun, but it was on the fruits that she could really shine. Occasionally jelly, but mostly jams and preserves and marmalade. And the best damn peaches and pears that you’ve never tasted.

    • #2
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:32 pm
    • Like14 likes
  3. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    I can tell you’re from a southern family! That even looks like my mom’s hutch.

    • #3
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:37 pm
    • Like15 likes
  4. Profile photo of Gary McVey Member

    Beautiful lady, RA.

    • #4
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:39 pm
    • Like1 like
  5. Profile photo of J.D. Snapp Coolidge
    J.D. Snapp Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I can tell you’re from a southern family! That even looks like my mom’s hutch.

    I think it’s identical!

    • #5
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:41 pm
    • Like4 likes
  6. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Beautiful lady, RA.

    Thanks! I did a whole post about her, and this photo was in it. She was very southern!

    • #6
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:50 pm
    • Like4 likes
  7. Profile photo of Clavius Thatcher

    I’m hungry now.

    Well done.

    • #7
    • July 23, 2017 at 9:59 pm
    • Like7 likes
  8. Profile photo of Johnnie Alum 13 Coolidge

    Food brings back so many wonderful memories. I’ve loved to cook for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I loved to watch the Food Network, Emeril Lagasse was a favorite of mine. One time when I was six, I tried to make popovers because I had seen Emeril make them. I can assure you that they did not “pop” over the way that were meant to. They were heavier than a brick. My mom ate one anyway, she said “Maybe you can try this recipe again in a few years.” I did and they turned out that time. I think I was 10 or 11. Still today whenever I have a popover I am reminded of my first failed attempt.

    Making my mom’s recipes helps me to bring back memories of her. Last year was the first Thanksgiving without her. She was the pie maker. I stepped up to the plate (pun very much intended) and made the pies. Of course I followed her pumpkin pie recipe and her pie crust recipe.

     My mom and her pies.

     My pies last Thanksgiving.

    I think that she passed her touch onto me.

    • #8
    • July 23, 2017 at 10:14 pm
    • Like17 likes
  9. Profile photo of Annefy Member

    Here in the 2nd half of my life I’ve just recently learned to appreciate cooks.

    My mom wasn’t much of one – though she could could bake a few things from the old country that we all loved, shortbread, butter tarts, empire biscuits.

    I am what I call a survival cook – I kept everyone alive for 25+ years. No great memories, but we sat for dinner every night of the week.

    But my daughter can cook. And her husband can COOK. He fed 30+ people yesterday, a couple of dozen or so of them were Marines.

    Watching him and my daughter I’ve learned what you can say with a meal. Thanks for your service. I love you. I am glad you’re here and you’re welcome any time

    My son in law is often asked how he learned to cook. He demures. Doesn’t give much of an answer, says it’s something his family does.

    But he said something to my daughter last year: your family talks. My family cooks.

    this is what we’ll fed looks like:

    • #9
    • July 23, 2017 at 11:31 pm
    • Like18 likes
  10. Profile photo of Arahant Member

    As another Southerner, all I have to say is, “Yep.”

    My wife brought home the ingredients for a type of bread from the market last night. I’ll bake her a beautiful loaf of bread, even though I can’t eat so much as a crumb of it myself, ’cause that’s just love.

    • #10
    • July 24, 2017 at 12:13 am
    • Like11 likes
  11. Profile photo of I Walton Member

    Food’s the center when we get together. We just had all of them, at one point 17 in our not large four bedroom, but we pile my daughter and her five in one room, my son and his three in another. All are foodies, including even the youngest kids. We spent our lives abroad so my children’s kids are used to a great variety and lots of spice at their own tables, so it’s very eclectic, with each of us taking turns responding to demand. Chinese, Korean, sushi, Colombian and when it’s American… meat.. Big thick and rare. My daughter makes the best Korean bulgogi I’ve ever eaten, at least once we have a Colombia fried dinner, fried yuca, tostados, and fried ribs with gobs of ahi. In the winter a sanchocho de gallina. Then there’s garlic roasted pork shoulder, where the garlic mixture is stuck under the skin which is separated all but the edges and comes out as chichiron and the pork just falls apart and the potatoes cooked with it don’t need gravy. And one meal by popular demand is a spread of stinky cheeses, really good bread, pate, olives, lots of red wine and a long afternoon to spend consuming it. The last of the crew depart today. So it’s back to a serious diet.

    • #11
    • July 24, 2017 at 5:12 am
    • Like8 likes
  12. Profile photo of Kay of MT Member

    @j.d.snap, I didn’t see any fried pies in those photos!

    • #12
    • July 24, 2017 at 5:49 am
    • Like2 likes
  13. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor

    I’m a fair-to-middlin’ cook, but at Thanksgiving, my husband and I love to have people over. Part of the love created is our cooking together; that gets mixed in, too. Unlike lots of folks, we keep the meal simple so people can eat a ton of their favorites. It’s a special time. H.m.m.m.m… now I’m hungry!

    • #13
    • July 24, 2017 at 6:41 am
    • Like4 likes
  14. Profile photo of Kim K. Member

    Many of us cook and bake as a way of saying “I love you.” But full-scale (pun intended) loving of the sort pictured above can get one in trouble.

    • #14
    • July 24, 2017 at 7:07 am
    • Like4 likes
  15. Profile photo of J.D. Snapp Coolidge
    J.D. Snapp Post author

    Kim K. (View Comment):
    Many of us cook and bake as a way of saying “I love you.” But full-scale (pun intended) loving of the sort pictured above can get one in trouble.

    My husband is from Montana and while his family does big banquets on the holidays, he was blown away at how much food there is for an immediate family get-together at my family’s. He had to make me tamp down on some of my cook-for-20-when-it’s-just-2 urges because my love was making his pants not fit very well. 🙂

    • #15
    • July 24, 2017 at 8:21 am
    • Like9 likes
  16. Profile photo of Arahant Member

    J.D. Snapp (View Comment):
    He had to make me tamp down on some of my cook-for-20-when-it’s-just-2 urges because my love was making his pants not fit very well.

    We used to joke that Mamma learned to cook for the whole Confederate Army.

    • #16
    • July 24, 2017 at 8:33 am
    • Like8 likes
  17. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    J.D. Snapp: Whether you say yes or no, you’ll be handed a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, a smile, and a sweet: “Oh hon, you looked hungry.”

    Love your piece because it sounds so much like my big fat Greek family. The only difference is while they may hand me a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea and a smile, no one is ever going to tell me “Oh hon, you looked hungry.” Those Ricochetti who have met me in person will understand why.

    Seawriter

    • #17
    • July 24, 2017 at 9:42 am
    • Like6 likes
  18. Profile photo of J.D. Snapp Coolidge
    J.D. Snapp Post author

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    J.D. Snapp: Whether you say yes or no, you’ll be handed a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, a smile, and a sweet: “Oh hon, you looked hungry.”

    Love your piece because it sounds so much like my big fat Greek family. The only difference is while they may hand me a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea and a smile, no one is ever going to tell me “Oh hon, you looked hungry.” Those Ricochetti who have met me in person will understand why.

    Seawriter

    I’ve lost just under 100 lbs since my husband and I started dating. Moving to Montana really assisted in the weight loss because you don’t eat fried everything up here. When I went back home, my grandma said “Oh, hon, you’re looking so good! Here’s a cookie! We need to fatten you back up!”

    • #18
    • July 24, 2017 at 11:24 am
    • Like6 likes
  19. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    J.D. Snapp (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    J.D. Snapp: Whether you say yes or no, you’ll be handed a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, a smile, and a sweet: “Oh hon, you looked hungry.”

    Love your piece because it sounds so much like my big fat Greek family. The only difference is while they may hand me a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea and a smile, no one is ever going to tell me “Oh hon, you looked hungry.” Those Ricochetti who have met me in person will understand why.

    Seawriter

    I’ve lost just under 100 lbs since my husband and I started dating. Moving to Montana really assisted in the weight loss because you don’t eat fried everything up here. When I went back home, my grandma said “Oh, hon, you’re looking so good! Here’s a cookie! We need to fatten you back up!”

    Ha! When I was first married, my mother-in-law was constantly trying to fatten me up. One time she told me that when her friends met me, they’d all asked her, “Has she been sick?” She was constantly shoving potatoes under my nose at the table.

    • #19
    • July 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm
    • Like4 likes
  20. Profile photo of J.D. Snapp Coolidge
    J.D. Snapp Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    J.D. Snapp (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    J.D. Snapp: Whether you say yes or no, you’ll be handed a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, a smile, and a sweet: “Oh hon, you looked hungry.”

    Love your piece because it sounds so much like my big fat Greek family. The only difference is while they may hand me a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea and a smile, no one is ever going to tell me “Oh hon, you looked hungry.” Those Ricochetti who have met me in person will understand why.

    Seawriter

    I’ve lost just under 100 lbs since my husband and I started dating. Moving to Montana really assisted in the weight loss because you don’t eat fried everything up here. When I went back home, my grandma said “Oh, hon, you’re looking so good! Here’s a cookie! We need to fatten you back up!”

    Ha! When I was first married, my mother-in-aw was constantly trying to fatten me up. One time she told me that when her friends met me, they’d all asked her, “Has she been sick?” She was constantly shoving potatoes under my nose at the table.

    We’ve both semi-joked about our visits back to Arkansas making us feel skinny and really really good-looking. Especially considering that we’re some of the biggest people anywhere we go in Bozeman.

    • #20
    • July 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm
    • Like6 likes
  21. Profile photo of Johnnie Alum 13 Coolidge

    J.D. Snapp (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    J.D. Snapp (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    J.D. Snapp: Whether you say yes or no, you’ll be handed a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, a smile, and a sweet: “Oh hon, you looked hungry.”

    Love your piece because it sounds so much like my big fat Greek family. The only difference is while they may hand me a cookie, biscuit, or piece of pie along with an ice cold glass of sweet tea and a smile, no one is ever going to tell me “Oh hon, you looked hungry.” Those Ricochetti who have met me in person will understand why.

    Seawriter

    I’ve lost just under 100 lbs since my husband and I started dating. Moving to Montana really assisted in the weight loss because you don’t eat fried everything up here. When I went back home, my grandma said “Oh, hon, you’re looking so good! Here’s a cookie! We need to fatten you back up!”

    Ha! When I was first married, my mother-in-aw was constantly trying to fatten me up. One time she told me that when her friends met me, they’d all asked her, “Has she been sick?” She was constantly shoving potatoes under my nose at the table.

    We’ve both semi-joked about our visits back to Arkansas making us feel skinny and really really good-looking. Especially considering that we’re some of the biggest people anywhere we go in Bozeman.

    Wait until you go to Hawaii. You’ll feel tiny next to the native Hawaiians.

    • #21
    • July 24, 2017 at 1:42 pm
    • Like4 likes
  22. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    Johnnie Alum 13 (View Comment):
    Wait until you go to Hawaii. You’ll feel tiny next to the native Hawaiians.

    At least they now substitute SPAM for long pig.

    Seawriter

    • #22
    • July 24, 2017 at 1:55 pm
    • Like4 likes
  23. Profile photo of Grosseteste Member

    J.D. Snapp: I attempted to ship the jelly back via FedEx as I had flown down. Unfortunately, the jelly never made it back to me. When I called FedEx, they asked how much the jelly was worth. The only answer I could give was “Well, to me, it’s priceless.” How could I explain that this jelly was a way for me to transport some of my mom’s love back home to Montana so I could eat a teaspoon-full whenever I felt homesick?

    Disgusting: those responsible deserve to be fired, then executed.

    Thank you for this!


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    • #23
    • July 25, 2017 at 7:27 pm
    • Like3 likes
  24. Profile photo of Lois Lane Coolidge

    When I read this–like other commenters–I immediately think South. Maybe because this is exactly how my own family is. Why is this affinity for food so regional?

    I mean, I know people in other parts of the country eat. People in certain families like @seawriter have big meal traditions. But get below the Mason-Dixon for any family gathering, and someone is going to bring you a honey-baked ham.

    I have actually instructed people from far flung climes who have been guests to take a small first helping because not getting seconds is an unforgivable slight to many a Georgia grandma. I’m talking glove-across-the-face-we’re-gonna-have-a-duel-cause-you-didn’t-give-proper-respect-to-the-pie-crust insult.

    You know what I’m talking about. 🙂

    • #24
    • July 26, 2017 at 8:14 am
    • Like7 likes
  25. Profile photo of J.D. Snapp Coolidge
    J.D. Snapp Post author

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    When I read this–like other commenters–I immediately think South. Maybe because this is exactly how my own family is. Why is this affinity for food so regional?

    I mean, I know people in other parts of the country eat. People in certain families like @seawriter have big meal traditions. But get below the Mason-Dixon for any family gathering, and someone is going to bring you a honey-baked ham.

    I have actually instructed people from far flung climes who have been guests to take a small first helping because not getting seconds is an unforgivable slight to many a Georgia grandma. I’m talking glove-across-the-face-we’re-gonna-have-a-duel-cause-you-didn’t-give-proper-respect-to-the-pie-crust insult.

    You know what I’m talking about. 🙂

    I know exactly what you’re talking about! I told my husband that the best compliment he’s ever given me was about my cooking.

    • #25
    • July 26, 2017 at 8:17 am
    • Like3 likes
  26. Profile photo of Lois Lane Coolidge

    J.D. Snapp (View Comment):
    I know exactly what you’re talking about! I told my husband that the best compliment he’s ever given me was about my cooking.

    You know, I am a horrible cook, but a friend of my husband’s once called my fried chicken “gorgeous,” and my inner Georgian kicked in. For a moment, despite my very happy marriage, I had a fleeting thought that I might want to run away with that man. 🙂

    • #26
    • July 26, 2017 at 8:21 am
    • Like8 likes
  27. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    That spread could feed the whole Ricochet crowd! YUMM!

    • #27
    • July 26, 2017 at 10:19 am
    • Like3 likes
  28. Profile photo of Typical Anomaly Member

    I’d agree that the South carries the love of food as you describe. But I’m a Rust Belt native with German and Scottish ancestry. Somehow, with no ancestral ties to the South, we throw gatherings with wheelbarrows full of food from the basic food groups:

    • Traditional – foods that always appear at this type of gathering
    • Novel, but tested – foods that inject that “Oh, and what’s this?” color into the menu
    • Dessert – nothing can go too far for this category and crossover into other groups is welcome (ex. new jerky recipe = meat candy!)

    While we may not have the sweet tea and the like, we certainly don’t see any lack of what you describe. It never seemed regional to me. It’s a question of how you define hospitality.

    • #28
    • July 26, 2017 at 11:12 am
    • Like6 likes
  29. Profile photo of Kim K. Member

    On a related note – I’ve been in churches all my life and each one brags that they do potlucks like no other. I was raised by Dutch Calvinists in NW Iowa and they knew how to put on a spread. (Probably why 50% of the congregation was fat.) At one church we attended in St. Louis there was a potluck – bring one cold dish and one hot dish. Some people actually made Kraft mac and cheese or a pan of boiled corn kernels. Also, angel food cake cupcakes. At my current church, people will show up with salad from the grocery deli or desserts from the grocery store bakery. I’m pretty sure the church of my childhood would have excommunicated such nonsense!

    • #29
    • July 26, 2017 at 4:02 pm
    • Like7 likes
  30. Profile photo of Matt White Member

    Kim K. (View Comment):
    On a related note – I’ve been in churches all my life and each one brags that they do potlucks like no other. I was raised by Dutch Calvinists in NW Iowa and they knew how to put on a spread. (Probably why 50% of the congregation was fat.) At one church we attended in St. Louis there was a potluck – bring one cold dish and one hot dish. Some people actually made Kraft mac and cheese or a pan of boiled corn kernels. Also, angel food cake cupcakes. At my current church, people will show up with salad from the grocery deli or desserts from the grocery store bakery. I’m pretty sure the church of my childhood would have excommunicated such nonsense!

    We have a few potlucks at my church, but I seem to catch Sunday after church potlucks about 2/3rds of the time when I visit another church in my denomination while traveling for work.

    • #30
    • July 26, 2017 at 5:16 pm
    • Like2 likes