I called to wish my grandmother a happy 86th birthday shortly before Thanksgiving. We both lamented that we would not be spending Thanksgiving together this year due to the pandemic. We always spend Thanksgiving together. It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without my grandmother.
In a smaller way, it also doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without her stuffing.
Does she use a recipe? Of course not. She’s an 86-year-old woman from Alabama. The recipe resides within her, and her only.
As we chatted on the phone that day, she mentioned that my mother had called her earlier about that stuffing recipe. Since we weren’t spending Thanksgiving together, my mom was going to attempt it for the first time. She had tried to give approximate measurements, but as I said earlier, she stops adding ingredients “when it looks right.”
Thanksgiving Day arrived, and my mom mentioned no less than five times that she had nailed Memom’s stuffing. She was so proud. Even though it certainly wasn’t the same without our usual crowd of people, it felt a little better to fill our bellies with that familiar flavor. We FaceTimed my grandmother later in the day, and the very first thing out of my mom’s mouth was, “I did it! The stuffing tasted exactly like yours!” My grandmother beamed from the other end.
How many family recipes never get passed down because no one but the original chef attempts it? How many recipes go to rest with their owner? How many people try for years to replicate a loved one’s recipe, wishing they could just call and ask? How many people never get to share that they finally nailed it?
This holiday season is especially hard. Many of us are not spending it with the people we love, which also means we are not sharing the food we love. All those holiday dishes that seem to complete the occasion are staying home this year.
Get. That. Recipe.
What an incredibly rare gift we have in the middle of a terrible holiday season to call our loved ones and have them walk us through the recipe! Let them explain what it should feel like in your hands. FaceTime them so they can check the color, the consistency, the technique. Let them share secrets that never seem to make it in a recipe card. Tricks about pans and oven temperatures and that extra dash of spice for good measure.
Then share your success with them! Let them celebrate with you. Enjoy a gift that would have never been possible if we hadn’t all been separated this year.