Family recipes…family secrets

When I started this blog (has it really been just over a week? O! The past!) it was to share my recipes with friends who had been asking for them and to have a place online where I could store my recipes in an organized fashion. And of course primarily it was to avoid doing my actual writing — thus the name of the blog!

But as I started to write up recipes, many of which are my Mom’s or sort of traditional to our family, I started to stir up controversy a bit and unearth some things that I didn’t realize were connected to those family formulas.

It seems absurdly banal to point out that food equals love equals the beating heart of any loud, ethnic (in my case, Jewish) family but I was actually naive enough to believe that I could start to record recipes that had become almost tribal in their preparation and not expose some kind of nerve.

For instance, the recipes that my mother wrote down for me NEVER include key steps to preparation that we always do! Why is that? She’s not an especially secretive or withholding person, especially not when it comes to food. She loves to tell the story of a fellow faculty wife at a Midwestern university where my Dad was teaching who only let her have her cheesecake recipe in exchange for a solemn promise NEVER to make it either in the Midwest or for any of their mutual friends. That woman struck her as absurd — paranoid even. And yet…

Wichita Sims, an inveterate fan of my baked goods, exclaimed in horror the other day that by putting down my recipes in this blog I was “giving them all away!”

By “giving away” the recipes that have fed and pleased the hordes are we somehow losing something of ourselves? To me, it feels like multiplying the recipes’ power, rather than lessening it, but I am surely blowing the importance of things like brownies, orange cake, and flourless chocolate torte way out of proportion.

Or am I?

P.S., The photo above is probably by my mother — uncredited because it looks nicer that way. !!!


About bakingnotwriting

I'm a writer who is always baking! Or a baker who is always writing...No. Other way around.
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