When I was working on a new look for this blog, I realized I could add a “tag line,” some kind of catchy description of the blog and what it’s about. As I was thinking about this I tried to put myself into the kitchens of previous generations. They didn’t have computers and the internet to search for recipes. They didn’t have cooking shows on TV. Before a certain point in time, they didn’t even have the telephone to call up a sister or friend to check on how to make a favorite dish.
Shared recipe cards almost always have the name of the person who shared it. Here we have seen Mrs. Cleveland (Gram’s brother’s mother in law), Mernie, Jessie Beck, and there are more to come, and I know the cookbook my mother put together with all her own favorite recipes has lots more names. Look into your recipe box and see how many of those cards or notes came from other people. Seems like we all have a favorite dish that someone else makes. I know my spinach artichoke dip is a huge hit with the Kirk family in South Africa because I have emailed it to my friend who lives there.
So, where I’m going with this is that back in the day, before we had 140 character status updates, text, IM, email, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, how did women network? They networked at church, at their child’s school, with the neighbors, and with family and friends. Part of that was sharing recipes. A recipe from one mother to another may find its way into the hands of a friend of one of the daughters, all while toting along that name in parenthesis. Part of the enjoyment is knowing the source, after all these years, was Aunt Mernie or Mrs. Cleveland, or Gram’s Mother, whomever. It ties us to the past, to our family members, to our friends and neighbors and community. They give us a window into how a person thought in how the recipe is organized, and whether the recipe was well loved based on how messy and spattered it is. The changes in food products over time and the availability of certain items also gives us an idea of what was important or known about certain foods. The notes on them tell us how the cook adapted the recipe over time to meet family needs.
I hope you are enjoying these recipes, what I consider to be the original social networking.
I believe you are correct! I remember how my Grandmother used to beam from ear to ear when I asked for one of her old recipes..:)