Culinary Heritage

I just got a new cookery book the other day. I just love reading cookery books, perhaps even a little bit more than cooking from them! My mum has a theory that it’s the adjectives (meltingly, crispy, creamy, unctuous, boozy, burstingly) and the verbs (swirl, drizzle, mash, splash, dip, sprinkle, spoon) that makes these books so sensual and, therefore, so enjoyable to read. Our mouths begin to water as our eyes devour the text on the page. The book which I treated myself to this week is one I’ve had my eye on for a while now; it’s called Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes by Tessa Kiros. You can find an interview with Kiros here. It’s one of these books which is so beautiful that I have found myself picking it up several times already just to look at the pictures. The idea behind the book is that it traces the author’s culinary heritage. She states that ‘these are the recipes I grew up with: the recipes that have woven their way through the neighbourhoods of my mind, past indifference and into love’. Isn’t that a wonderful turn of phrase! As her heritage is a particularly global one, she has chapters on Finland, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa and Italy. My own culinary heritage is a decidedly Scottish one as both sides of my family can be traced as belonging to Scotland as far back as the 1700s. Dropped scones, shortbread and potato farls are more in keeping with my heritage than schnitzels and stiffado. It is fascinating, though, how our family traditions influence our cooking. Our sense of “home”, i.e. the geographic place as well as the space of familial connection, is intimately related to the food we eat, and I think this is one of the main things this book has to teach us. Not only does it have some wonderful new recipes to try out, but it also encourages one to revisit one’s own culinary heritage.

What is your culinary heritage? What food says “home” to you?

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August 23, 2007. Creativity.

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