I made a favourite dish last night for my lover: chicken in white wine stew with gremolata, served with mashed potatoes, and a green salad with my take on vinaigrette….
The chicken has always been a favourite recipe of mine, and happily has become such for him too since I have started cooking for him. I cook of course, for myself too when I cook for others, we all do. I once kept a diary of every meal I cooked or had out. I found that journal the other day, and had in my hand a history of that year in food; no recipes, just a short description of what I cooked/ate, and on the opposite page, in the same line who I had it with or whether it was a special occasion.. a year measured out in meals.
Reading through it last night waiting for my lover to arrive, it was easy to spot my favourite meals, well at least for that year, but also those lifelong standards which are probably worth recording in recipe form. I did once start a recipe book, in a notebook handmade by my second husband: I found that too during these past two weeks since I decided to start blogging about my food memories.
My maternal grandmother had one of those sturdy, A4, lined, black hard cover notebooks which she had covered with what always looked to me like a piece of plastic tablecloth, but which was probably from a roll of vinyl for that purpose… the contents though were mostly cookies and cakes and tarts recipes, all copied out in blue ballpoint. I’m sure one of my aunts still has it.
I have my mom’s recipe book: similar to her mother’s: the same black hardcover notebook, with a blue fabric spine… and now even thinking about it this morning I want to cry… every time I open it I do cry, still, even 9 years after her death: the recipes written in her very feminine, loopy but neat handwriting mostly also in blue ballpoint, with loyal reference to the source, whether from a friend or a magazine, or a radio show: Sometimes she would have written them down in shorthand first, and then transcribe.
Her recipe book bulges with clippings too, and pieces of paper from old fashioned writing pads (remember Basildon Bond?) with handwritten recipes from other women: some of whom I knew as neighbours… from her mother, from her sisters, from her mother-in law, my other grandmother: so when I hold that book in my lap, I am in an instant connected to all those women and the love so richly shared and expressed through cooking and baking and more than that, recording it so that it can be passed from generation to generation.
So maybe thinking about favourite food is the clarion call to continue the tradition, to write down, by hand, favourite recipes again: the Wednesday meals that my sons have here every week, the dinners for friends, and the food I cook for my lover.. for pure pleasure but also for posterity…