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Meals and Memories

Meals and Memories

May 20, 2024

I have many strong memories of India and my family that center around food. It’s common knowledge that food can comfort and bring people together, but even more so for anyone who is part of a diaspora. The right food makes you feel at home even when you’re not; it brings back people who are far either by distance or time.

Growing up in the States, I never grew up on spicy food and still only have a light tolerance. So, visiting India and having my aunties cook special food just for me was another reminder of how much they cared for and loved me. Now, anytime I have potato pakora, I am reminded of them; I can hear them say, “Everything good, beta?” Even in Kansas City, when my dad and I would visit his friends, they would always send us home with a bunch of food.

It’s a love language, saying, “Here, I want to make sure you are looked after even when we aren’t together.” Across all cultures, there are traditions centered on food as an act of love, whether it’s bringing soup to a sick friend, spending long hours baking treats for a celebration, or preserving that great-great-great grandma’s sacred recipe for the perfect cookies. We all have these memories in some shape or form, no matter if the table is laid with korma, rice, and naan or barbeque, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls. 

This is why preserving those memories and recipes is so important. It will tie you to family you may never meet, but in a way, they will know you. That’s why I made sure to preserve my dad’s chai recipe. It’s a smell I’ve known since I was a baby, and now it makes me feel cozy and loved. I know one day my dad will not be able to make me chai, so I made sure to ask him all the steps he uses and even made a video of him at the stove stirring with care. Protecting this recipe is so much more than a recipe; it’s a piece of my family, myself, and home.

Here are 3 Ways You Can Explore Food and Family

Write Down Your Recipes

To start writing your recipes, The Story Center has recipe card templates available for the month of May. The templates also have a section for you to write a fond memory related to that recipe. For a digital copy of the template, email The Story Center.

Check Out a Cookbook

MCPL's collection has so many inspiring cookbooks! Many cookbooks recognize the ties between stories and food; check out our Cooking Up a Story book list for great food-related stories and get cooking up your own.

Record Your Story

If you are looking for a way to pass down your family memories and stories, check out the Midwest Genealogy Center’s Tell Me a Story Oral History Program, which includes kits you can check out for recording your story.

Simaran Singh 
Story Center Associate

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