Leoria Johnson

How Cooking Connects Us to Our Families and Ourselves

April 22, 2010 at 10:55 pm , by

Severson headshot“The kitchen is where I learned all my lessons,” writes New York Times food writer Kim Severson in her memoir, Spoon Fed, which came out last week. In the book, which has hit the bestseller list already, Kim, a friend of mine—that’s her in the picture—writes about wisdom she’s gathered from celebrity chefs she’s come to know, like Rachael Ray and Alice Waters. Cooking, for Kim, is a way of connecting with those famous women, with her Italian-American midwestern mom, Anne Marie, and ultimately, with herself.

I can so relate. But for me, cooking isn’t so much about connecting with my mom, who cooks out of necessity and hates it—she’d rather be out raking the yard. It’s my way of knowing and connecting to my dad, who died when I was not quite two years old. And now, as a single mom, it’s my way of connecting my three-year-old son to his grandfather, to his male roots, and to all the food-loving southern relatives on that side of the family whom he may never get to know. For Scott and for me, cooking is a daily visit with the father and grandfather we never knew; a hands-on untangling of the mystery of our genes. Do you have a story of how cooking has helped you find your identity? After the jump, here’s mine. Read more