I inherited a bunch of community cookbooks from Mom and bought a couple more in thrift stores. The recipes in them are anchored in the character of the region where they were collected, the products of local PTAs, church groups and ethnic societies. They’re also a fine guide to food fads.
Maybe it’s that we’ve learned how to accept life now. Maybe, in some manner, we’re figuring out how to patch together a shade of what was once our daily routines. Or maybe it’s this, from the philosopher Jeff Goldblum. Whatever has happened, small moments of grace have surfaced–some of wonder and others of blessed normalcy.
Spring is here and it’s time to rejuvenate our bodies and spirits in the form of historical tonic recipes.
I had to get out of the house today and, lucky enough to have a car, drove twenty blocks to the edge of Brooklyn.
If the current powers-that-be do look to the Works Progress Administration for inspiring a way out of our mess, we should all insist they hitch the Art programs to it.
To help us through this difficult time, let’s gather a shred of historical perspective by leafing through a couple of old cookbooks written during difficult times.
Tom lives to photograph. I’m nothing if I can’t untangle lives that went before us. I think for us both, Dead Horse Beach is a portrait of brutal carelessness, giving up its ghosts with each low tide. That it draws so many to it–Tom and me, for instance–in wonder of its past and what it teaches us today is a reason to celebrate all the ugliness strewn across the sand.
It’s not hyperbolic to say the world shifted a little in having to contemplate the possibility that a recipe core to my identity, that was passed from one woman’s hand to another and then another could not be the total of its sum.