- 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.