The taste of childhood …or how I took my Grandma to NYC

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The taste of childhood lives with us throughout the entire life. If you are thinking of your favorite dishes, I am pretty sure, there is always a path paved by ingredients that was formed by generations of amazing cooks in your family. Each and every one of them adds that slightly little extra spice to a classic dish which makes it therefore incomparable to the others.

Today I want to introduce you to an event that puts a lot of love and effort in preserving this culinary identity, called My Mother’s Recipe.
It is a Sunday afternoon potluck, based in New York, established by The CareGivers’ Project which brings together older people who live in their own homes, independent and assisted living and nursing homes and their caregivers. The purpose of My Mother’s Recipe is to celebrate the bond between caregivers and caretakers by sharing a home-cooked dish and recipe, which has been handed down from an earlier generation with other care pairs in their community. It is open to fathers, sisters, caregiving neighbors and past caregivers who all have stories to share. This past spring, I had the chance to spend one afternoon in a beautiful retirement home in Yonkers, just north of the Bronx, where the event took place.  I love old people and the stories they have to tell, that’s why this afternoon, which was far away from all the „cool“ and „hip“ stuff was one of my favorite days, while living in New York City.

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The „Riverdale-Residence Girls“ at „My Mother´s Recipe“ buffet Spring 2014

I was happy to see also younger generations taking part in this event, since we are the caregivers of tomorrow. All together celebrating generations of comfort food and “back in the day” stories related to their family members and the roots of the meals they brought.

The background
The CareGivers‘ Project was incorporated in 2012 by the creative spare time synergy of my friend Jomarie Zeleznik, Mary Ellen DeVito and Michael E. Berry all of whom drew inspiration from caring for parents. To be a caregiver is a choice you can make. A classic definition would be: „A person who provides direct care as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill“. The website of The CareGivers’ Project published individual comments stated by a variety of people reflecting on the term „caregiver“, showing that the perception is very different in our society. Read more about the mission of the project in general here.

My personal ingredients 

I do sometimes miss the other perspective of the elderly in my very urban environment having grown up in a small town in a three generation household, which was very usual in the 80s. Living in the „Big City“ I feel, that there is a strong need for keeping up the exchange between the different generations. Well, we all know the demographic change is very obvious. People are moving to the cities and we are all getting older. Its all super obvious, but still we so often forget. I think culinary journeys are a very good occasion to connect with older people.
My grandmother passed when I was only 12 years old and ever since, I miss her and the incredible food she made. Preserving that memory, I decided to bring a special potato salad to My Mother´s Recipe that strongly reminded me of her. The funny thing about this meal was,that she actually never made it for me, but I made it for a family event once, because I found the recipe somewhere. When my mother first tried it, she said that’s exactly the taste of her childhood, because my grandma used to do it in the same way in earlier years. In the end I was so super glad to share this taste of my family far away from my German home with elder New York ladies at this cozy suburb afternoon. It somehow gave me the feeling that I took my grandma with me that day.

My Grandmother

My Grandmother

Grandma & me in 1983

Grandma & me in 1983

If you are wondering why I don´t post any recipes in this article at all, Donna Jacobson one of the contributors, has a pretty good answer in her own story to this. Whenever people asked her about her mother´s recipe, she says:

… usually, there was no recipe. It was a little of this, a lot of the other and cook until it tastes right. Occasionally, our mothers would trade family recipes, but most often, they were a guarded secret, revealed only to family members.

Enjoy Donna´s complete beautiful story about food and family set growing up in the Bronx:

FOOD FOR MY SENSES

and 

MY FATHER´S MEATBALLS by Mary Ellen DeVito

These two beautiful stories that were told at the last event. Maybe make you´ll be inspired what´s next on the menu. Even if, for whatever reason, we don´t find any recipes or can´t talk to family members any more, the memory of the taste is in our DNA and we all should preserve this family treasure!

Bon Appetite!

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Photo by Kristen Llobrera pixelatedcrumb.com


The next MY Mother´s Recipe,
Sunday October 19, 2014 12:30-3:00 PM

Hosted at The Riverside Rehab and Healing Center

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Jomarie

    1. Oktober 2014 at 2:19

    Thank you and the memories of your grandmother for coming to the last My Mother’s Recipe. This event is something different for everyone. Some people are still able to bring their mother or grandmother. My father is coming to the next one. Some people come to be with people who can talk about caregiving. Some people come because they are family food foodies. Dorothy comes because at 98 years old she likes to have a reason to cook, get out of her Bronx apartment and visit with „old friends.“ Maureen, who does not cook, comes with her mother who also does not cook because the food is better than the nursing home food and she just enjoys her mother’s company. We loved the German potato salad. And you were a cut baby who grew up to honor her grandmother.

  2. Sandra

    1. Oktober 2014 at 4:33

    Thank you for a heartwarming reminder of the wonderful event last spring. I enjoy the My Mother’s Recipe even though my mother has departed long ago. I glimpse the mother-daughter moments that other share while we visit and eat and relate stories of the past. It makes your heart feel good as you depart the event. And, on this day, more is learned from the seniors than we can give/repay to them. I wish you could join us for the October event. You will be missed.

  3. Hans Wolf

    5. Oktober 2014 at 2:15

    This is a beautiful story! Since I have some German roots I completely
    Understand the potato salad. I will keep the tradition alive in this Upcoming
    My mothers recipe event with a Chilean Tomato Salad, or I may also surprise
    With a Getman potato salad as well!

  4. Mary Ellen DeVito

    6. Oktober 2014 at 19:28

    „It somehow gave me the feeling that I took my grandma with me that day.“
    Yes! That is the essence of this event. These recipes that we recreate so lovingly are not simply about ingredients and temperatures and measurements. They are the sharing of love, they are the manifestation of out sacred links, and they are the way we make our dear ones vital and real in our lives. It’s all so much more than a meal; it’s the meaning we give to life in general. Thank you for so artfully articulating the message we are promoting.

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