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Culinary bequests: what will you leave behind?


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When you finally leave this world, and hopefully, that will not be anytime soon, what culinary things will you bequeath to your survivors? Something personal sometimes helps us to connect in some small, but wonderful, ways ...

Culinary wisdom?

Special cooking utensils?

A set of spotted, well worn cookbooks which you treasured?

A treasure trove of recipes?

What do you want the next generation to know and remember that might bring them the pleasures which cooking and dining has afforded you during your lifetime?

Please share your thoughts on this rarely mentioned but vital topic ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Yes, I have a large cookbook collection and a modest collection of antique kitchen tools, but what I hope to leave with my children is an understanding that cooking is not a chore. It is not like doing the windows or the laundry.

Cooking is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is what makes us who we are, and therefore should be approached with both reverence and passion. I believe they already undertand that when cook for them it is how I show them my love, like my parents and grandparents did for me. I hope they carry on that tradition.

Peace,

kmf

www.KurtFriese.com

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I suppose my ego likes to think that at least a few people will remember me for at least a few years for having introduced them to the pleasures of fine wine and fine dining.

From a perhaps more realistic point of view, I would hope that those few who truly love me will think of me whenever they open a bottle of fine wine or as they take a first bite of pate de foie gras en croute.

Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)
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As a professional baker, I was first going to say my collection of well-worn, well-annotated cookbooks and recipes.

But as a parent, I realized that what I want my child to know is his culinary heritage: the cooking of his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. It's what my paternal grandmother gave ME, and that is more priceless than anything else I have of hers. It's the memory of being too small to stand at the counter, but big enough to sit in a tall chair and roll meatballs; it's fishing the sausages and pork and brasciole out of the gravy (that's what we called tomato sauce when I was growing up. We didn't call it pasta either, everything was macaroni!). It's being able to recreate the ricotta and spinach stuffing she used in her roast chicken when my mother wanted to taste it again after my grandmother died (my mother never managed to get that "recipe" out of her!)

It makes me realize that I have to start teaching my child how to do all those things and say "this is what your great-grandmother showed me how to do" so he has a connection to a generation he only knows through photograhs.

And it wasn't until you posed the question that I realized it. Thanks! :biggrin:

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A dear friend of mine passed away about 2 years ago & her husband just brought me a bunch of her recipe cards. I'm looking forward to using them, as a way to stay connected with her & to try some new dishes...

It was nice to discover that 3 or 4 were recipes I'd given to her :biggrin:

For my own legacy, I want to be sure my china, which is not family china but came down from a "godmother" type friend of the family, similarly goes on to someone who will appreciate it. I'll have to wait & see how my various friends children turn out. I keep telling them to raise me a girly-girl so I can pass on my childhood tea-set at least, but so far it hasn't worked out.

I also have a huge library of culinary history research books & papers (many in italian) that will have to go specifically to people who'll can use/read them.

Of course someday I hope to leave the world a book or two of my own out of all that research material.

Oh and my mandoline has to go to someone who won't cut their hand off using it & then try to sue my ghost for damages :laugh:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Since I have no direct descendants, I anticipate most of my stuff will be sold at a garage sale, and it's my fervent prayer that some aspiring cook will find a treasure or two there, and excitedly call a friend to gush about the great "score" they just made.

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So many of my own memories of my family are tied to sitting at the table at various holidays feasting on the dishes my grandmother, mother, and aunts made. I think of the feeling of warmth and togetherness and most of all generousity of spirit. That's what I want people to think of me.

It would also be nice to pass on recipes so that when other people use them they'll be known as Bloviatrix's [name of dish here].

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Such beautiful thoughts here from everyone ... I am more than moved ... the topic is an attempt on my part to understand what part of a legacy is more than simply about monetary issues ... aren't there parents who leave their children "ethical wills"?

Ethical wills have been characterized as windows into the souls of those who write them, making these wills cherished by family members from generation to generation. Reinforcing the fact that one does not have to be wealthy to leave a legacy, an ethical will provides the writer a way to live on after death in the hearts and minds of loved ones and friends.
source

In our case as food enthusiasts, this, then, is also a means of passing on one's interests in culinary pursuits ....

It is what makes us who we are, and therefore should be approached with both reverence and passion
But as a parent, I realized that what I want my child to know is his culinary heritage: the cooking of his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I was talking to a co-worker the other day and was telling her about something I ate. She said: "you know you always start to glow when you talk about food, it's really wonderful to see."

That's how I hope people will remember me, as someone who is passionate about good food, and as someone who was always trying to share that passion with others.

I always tell my husband than when I die, he'd better make sure there's a lot of good food at the funeral ("how am I going to do that honey, when you're not there to cook it?" :biggrin: )

And yes, I hope to write something, one day, that will be read after I'm gone.

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While eating a cupcake we made together this week, my 8 year old granddaughter said, "You know grandma, you should open a restaurant." That was followed by 30 minutes of her grand ideas for how I could accomplish this with her help. It was wonderful to know that she was getting it. That's what I leave.

Chufi, love the thing about your funeral. I've told my husband the same thing.

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I don't have kids. I do have nephews, ages 4 and 8, who live way the heck on the other coast. I've already discussed with my sister that I'm way overdue for a visit, so that among many other things her boys will get to know their aunt better. I'd already been kind of planning to have fun with showing up and being the cra-zee auntie from California :laugh: , but now you've got me thinking that I could add some crazy cooking to that mix for even better effect. My sister is a good cook too--maybe we could do a cooking extravaganza together. Some of my favorite memories involve witnessing/participating in family cooking extravaganzas, so even if the nephers aren't themselves into cooking yet, I bet this could be a similarly heavily-imprinted memory for them.

As for the rest ... well, my church is slowly but surely starting to become a repository of my cooking persona. In fact, in about fifteen minutes I'm about to light out for there with a load of supplies for the coffee hour. I wouldn't mind at all getting a rep for being one of the Known Congregational Cooks. As I said to the member who is the defacto kitchen manager, Zen tradition has it that the most spiritually advanced monk in the monastery is usually the cook. I dunno about the "spiritually advanced" bit, but I wouldn't mind leaving a legacy to that congregation of cooking as being a full body/brain/heart/spirit experience.

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Don't know about the legacy but it is worth consideration.

What I envision happening after I'm gone is a bunch of people standing around trying to decide where, what, when and how to eat and, without me there (res #s in cell phone, encyclopedic grasp of what's good right now and where to find it, and generally with some craving/opinion to posit if no one else has any strong preference, plus ever-present list of new places I'm dying to try). I hope someone steps up and they don't end up at Applebee's. :shock: I'm kidding. They wouldn't do that for fear that I would come back to haunt them. :laugh:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Before my grandmother passed away we made a family Sephardic/Syrian family cookbook in her honor. My wife and I have 4 cookbooks for each of our children so they can pass them on to their kids. Out side of that, I hope my love of cooking is transmitted to my children when I'm gone.

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I love this topic and everyone's responses. Klary, your husband's response made me laugh and get a little teary at the same time.

I hope that I leave behind a lot of intangibles - memories of meals at my house and holidays spent feasting. I am the family 'food' person and everyone has come to expect to spend most holidays at our house. They know that every Christmas dinner will be exactly the same and that other occasions mean anything goes! My nieces now eat oyster stuffing. My daughter's favorite thing growing up was ordering calamari at restaurants and tricking her friends into eating squid. Those things have to do with my influence. I love that.

And there is this: my cookbook

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I believe they already undertand that when  cook for them it is how I show them my love, like my parents and grandparents did for me.  I hope they carry on that tradition.

This, yes.. I sem to have managed this - my two children are adults, and enthusiastic about food and cooking.

Of course someday I hope to leave the world a book or two of my own out of all that research material.

This too, of course.

That's how I hope people will remember me, as someone who is passionate about good food, and as someone who was always trying to share that passion with others.

And this too, of course.

And the personal recipe collection made into a decent book or folder too. My sister and I did this a few years back for Christmas, but we collected the special recipes from each person in the circle of extended family and friends, included a photo of each person, and did an amateur desktop publishing job which we were very proud of and which was enormously popular.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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i have no living children nor nieces nor nephews to pass physical things on to..

i would hope johnnybird would put my culled cookbook collection and recipe cards up on the "FREE cookbook" thread i started here on egullet - though i do have some hope of passing some of them on to my sister-in-law who, at age 38 has started to develop an interest in cooking.

i do hope those who have known me physically or online would remember my sense of humor(offbeat at least) and my ability to laugh at myself during life's mishaps - what do you mean you set off the fire alarm, cleared the library out, and brought out the fire department while toasting the onion roll for your buffalo burger?

i hope people remember my love of getting my own food by hunting and gathering - god knows i have a "black thumb" and can't grow anything. and my joy in cooking and feeding whoever is around...

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I think I see a lot of what I will leave right now.

My son is working part time on the line at a local restaurant. This isn't his first commercial job, as he worked full time in a couple of places in Napa. But even after he followed me across the country to South Carolina and went back to work as a mechanic (MUCH more money in auto repair out here) he is back in a kitchen 3 nights a week, at <10 dollars an hour, because he LIKES to cook.

I know who he got that from, and it makes me smile.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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I have already passed on my love of the kitchen arts to my daughter and in turn it is being passed on to her children, now nearly grown up. How time flies and I look even more often back to my early years and those who influnced me most.

The things I remember most about my great-grandmother was her never-ending love of food and herb lore, reading stories and memoirs that described foods of her younger years, foods she discovered on her travels.

My favorite memory of her is that of her presiding over the tea table as the entire family gathered every afternoon, she sitting upright on her favorite chair, with her little feet on her needlepoint footstool. Her posture ramrod-straight, partly because of the "stays" she always wore from the time she came downstairs in the morning, until she went to bed. She loved the traditional (English-type) seeded and fruited cakes, scones, muffins and tarts as well as the southern specialties produced by our cook.

My grandfather's cook was a force of nature in herself. Although she grumbled about kids being "underfoot and into mischief" she truly had a world of patience and would tie a big apron around me, stand me on a kitchen chair at the huge kitchen work table and let me "help" prepare smething. She was a Gullah woman and did not read or write but had in her memory hundreds of very complex "receipts" for all kinds of cakes, cookies, pastries and pies as well as soups, stews, casseroles, puddings and so on.

Even with the most modern equipment and oven, I have never been able to reproduce the volume she achieved in an angel-food cake, whites beaten by hand and baked in a wood stove with the temperature measured by holding ones hand in the center of the oven for a few seconds.

My maternal grandmother was a fine cook herself but did not do a lot of it because her time was taken up with management of the house. However she did love to bake and especially new recipes. When Softasilk cake flour introduced the Orange Chiffon cake in 1948, my grandmother made one and it was such a hit she immediately baked several more (large family). She had a "secret" recipe for hickory nut cake that was incredibly delicious. I wish I had the recipe but it was one of the things no one could ever find after she passed.

My paternal grandmother was from a long line of acclaimed cooks in the area and I was always allowed to visit them during the county fair where she always came away with armfulls of blue ribbons and cash prizes. Especially prized were her canned fruits, peaches, pears, jams, jellies and preserves. Every jar was a work of art.

Part of my fascination with doing things the old-fashioned way, or re-creating old, lost, abandoned or forgotten recipes, is solely due to the love of food and cooking that was absorbed through my pores as a child in my grandfather's house.

This all skipped a generation because certainly my mother never cared much for cooking or baking as a homely art. She bought a bakery and ran it successfuly for several years but this was mainly because she was bored with small town life, after having lived in big cities after she and my father divorced. My stepfather enjoyed living in a very small town, although his office was in a small city (West Bend, WI) he liked coming home to the village.

I do have a large collection of cookbooks (I have a huge number of books, not just cookbooks) as well as various collections of antique kitchen gadgets, cookware, early electrical appliances and odd bits and pieces I have been gathering for 50 years.

All will go to my daughter and she can pass it along to her children if they want it. I do hope they enjoy the things as much as I have and get a sense of the generations that have been involved in bringing us to the point in time.

They are fortunate in that we have television programs, not just the current crop of celebrity chefs but also historical programs, for example, the National Geographic program a few years back that recreated a bakery of ancient Egypt. And I am immensly pleased that they are interested in these programs.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I somehow knew that this question was just perfect for you, andisenji! Thank you for the lovely, perfect responses ... and for sharing those memories and thoughts with us here ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The Christmas before my mother died, she put together this collection of our favorites:

gallery_8173_3226_112530.jpg

I hope to take the time to add to it and leave it to my daughter.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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My husband and I actually have it stated in our will; that we want our ashes strewn over a vineyard in Burgundy.

I also have in our will, many close friends, who we have chosen to do it.

AND, we'll pay for their trip over and a wonderful dinner in Bourgogne, to boot!

(No, we already have the friends chosen. New ones do not count!) :biggrin:

Philly Francophiles

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My Grams was a home ec teacher. She taught me the all basics, from steaming broccoli to making pancakes. I have a few kitchen things which she left to me, some biscuit cutters, her candy thermometer, some of her cookbooks (she had 5 children and many grandchildren), her superiorly seasoned cast iron pans, and her marble rolling pin. I know marble is not everyones perfect rolling pin but I use it exclusively. That pin is the favorite of all the tangible things she left me. I think of my grams and am reminded of picking Gravenstein apples from her backyard tree, peeling them carefully, trying to make a spiral slice of peel. Then slicing with the pairing knife and seasoning. Finally rolling the pie crust and stuffing it full, full, full. When I use my rolling pin, I am back in her kitchen talking about life and finding nourishment of the body and soul.

I hope to pass that rolling pin on with a few perfect recipes and the peace that comes with cooking and especially baking.

Edited by Trishiad (log)
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I think I must be doing this already, in one way, with the kids' cooking classes I teach. Yesterday I attended the bridal shower of a dear friend who started taking my classes when she was about 12. I mentioned in passing that I don't have any classes scheduled for this week so was planning to do other things and she exclaimed, "Oh, I just found my cooking class notebooks last week!" I joked that she must be decluttering and she said, "Oh no, I'd never get rid of those! They're too important." That makes me happy.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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