Mothers and Daughters
Voices Past and Present
Stories and Recipes
The Polish side of the family meant holiday services that only Mom could understand and breaking off pieces of oplatki to wish good luck for the new year.
A German opa was not happy that Dad had married a “foreigner" and made Mom’s life difficult. But at Christmas, there was peace, with culinary highlights.
London was in a celebratory mood for the first Christmas after the Second World War, and saved-up food rations were meant to provide a turkey.
What happens when a young woman is required to become her mother's new partner, best friend, psychologist, doctor, and daughter?
Maureen Ryan Griffin
Intent on preserving every scrap of memory about a mother slipping into dementia, a daughter discovers a treasure trove of past Christmas newsletters.
The daughter of immigrants who knew hard times hummed as she prepped, as she stirred, even as she served, taking true joy in cooking and in life itself.
The vintage cookies cutters, the soundtrack of Nat King Cole, and the dusting of flour over everything are part of a multi-generational tradition.
Changing the holiday menu sounded like a good idea, but for a daughter who depended on ritual and custom more than she realized, it was complicated.
Aimee Lee Ball
A daughter contemplates the provenance of family names—from the grandmother she never knew, to her mother, to…wait, she was named after whom?
Kresha Richman Warnock
Mid-century Eugene, Oregon, was limited to loaves in white plastic wrappers that promised to “build strong bodies 12 ways.” So Mom became a baker.
Melanie Fraser Hart
There was a mixed message from Mom: “Eat what’s on your plate,” with an underlying “Not too much or you’ll get fat.”
You have to be patient to make brisket, and you have to plan ahead. Unfortunately, those are two things that this aging mother can no longer do.
Having free run in the kitchen allowed a young girl to figure things out on her own—a rare and precious gift when growing up female in the Indian subcontinent.
Caroline Goldberg Igra
Cooking was relegated to a minor role for an accomplished professional mom. But for a time every year, her surrogate created delicious memories.
When a dragon invaded the cozy castle where the Queen and King lived with their Princesses, they had to call upon all the wizards and healers of the land.
Cooking was an event, with dancing and singing to a eclectic soundtrack—wooden spoons used as microphones. But food also created a battleground.
Jennifer L. Thornburg
When Mom came home from work too tired to speak and collapsed on the couch, her daughter whipped up treats that she hoped would make the world right.
Whether making the bed or making a sandwich, whether through a regretful mistake or an admirable decision, a daughter feels her mother’s presence.
A daughter always encouraged her mom to be more adventurous about what she ate. But when that daughter is a new mother herself, tradition reigns.
With Mom as a teacher involved in the struggles of her students, the best way for her daughter to get attention was with her own risky behaviors.
Nancy E. Gertz
With her brand-new driver's license, a daughter got to use the car—so long as she brought her mom a hot fudge sundae.
Raising four kids while attending college at night school, Mom made simple, rib-sticking dishes, each served in a particular colored bowl.
A painfully shy loner singing in the school chapel wins a coupon for milk—much prized in the food rationing years of the Rhodesian Bush War.
A tribute to a big, loud, ethnic, and whole-lot-of-eating family, and the matriarch who is a shero to her daughter, in and out of the kitchen.
Some cans of food in the basement bomb shelter were bought at half-price with missing labels, so Mom made sketches of the possible contents.
Mom approached cooking as cautiously as one might approach an electric fence. But mother-in-law Molly was a different story.
Recuperating from a hip replacement, Mother had no interest in the soup her daughter thoughtfully offered. Twenty years later, the daughter understands.
A bounty of fruit in the backyard and a generous idea from Mom spark a bit of mid-pandemic joy for a South African neighborhood.
Amita Jayant Sanghavi
In a British phone booth, so far from home, a young woman away at university tried to hide her homesickness and longing for her mother’s food.
After a traumatic family loss, trying to change a daughter who's the world's fussiest eater seemed entirely unimportant.
A treasured family recipe becomes ritual and bond for mother and daughter—one last time.
Gelene M. Beverly
Mom could replicate intricate dishes just by taste and smell, but it was the family potato salad that became an actual life lesson for her daughter.
A panic attack. Mom knows just what to do. It involves chocolate.
A journey across continents and cultures ends in an American dream (with the Persian pastries and pickles from grandmother’s and mother’s kitchens).
Marian Leah Knapp
A move to the quieter suburbs was thought to calm the behavior of a mother who banished her daughter to the basement, cooking on a makeshift stove.
Vasilika "Vanya" Marinkovic
A tough, huge-hearted, and resourceful woman, whose odyssey had taken her from Greece to Alaska, made sure her family never went hungry.
Bound by laughter, but knowing that “boundaries can be blessings,” a mother and daughter navigate challenges as Facebook “friends.”
Mom inherited her own mother's recipe box, along with an uncanny ability to ruin any recipe, no matter how “simple” or “easy” it claimed to be.
Outside of their normal comfort zone, as companions on an adventure, a daughter started to see her mom as the world did, even redefining her.
Friends and neighbors were willing to do almost anything for Mom's BBQ. It took a long time for her daughter to understand what made it special.
Mom was an early proponent of fresh organic food, like the rhubarb from Grandma’s garden. Home was physically healthy; emotionally it was anything but.
Mom had kitchen skills but never taught her daughter how to cook (or how to do much of anything else) because she’d had to learn everything on her own.
A daughter didn’t think food was important. But memories of Mom baking a pie while smoking cigarettes and singing make her rethink.
A devoted mum who's a superstar cook sees her daughter through every dietary craze and phase, whether vegan or keto or even, sadly, anorexia.
Mandy B. Fernandez
When the world feels out of control—like, for instance, in a pandemic—mother and daughter find comfort and calm in baking.
A mighty Korean woman knew that she wanted to build a life in America. But she still mastered a weird, stinky, ethnic food that her daughter craves.
“You’ve got to be messy to be a good cook,” said Mom, and as she showed how, her daughter learned confidence in herself—Roman nose and all.
Mom's recipes, bound in plastic, follow a daughter from college to ten different homes, even though they bear little resemblance to the greener way she eats.
Mother and daughters consider themselves global citizens, with respect for all cultures and traditions. But they are never far from a difficult Leningrad past.
A mother's greeting cards and handwritten notes allowed her to be more formal, more eloquent, more contemplative, more sentimental, more mushy.
Her special recipe (with an extra-special ingredient) was a perfect representation of Mom's sweetness, comfort, and welcoming of people into her home.
A wish to wipe out debt and live with a smaller footprint inspired a move from Canada to Costa Rica. Since Mom was a badass too, she came to visit.
What a daughter misses most is her mom's talks that presented both sides to any problem, never sugar-coated the issue, and never let her off the hook.
Starr Ridley/Black Mermaid
So close that they even graduated from high school together, a daughter tries to coax her aging mother out of stubborn, life-surrendering behavior.
Mom is a kitchen magician. Her daughter took pride in developing no cooking skills, and their differences resulted in friction. Then life led to reassessment.
The family might eat cereal three times a day, but for 50 cents, a daughter got an hour of ballet, tap, toe, and “elocution” at Miss Donner’s Dance School.
Carol Lippert Gray
A favorite recipe nourishes a family through grief and loss, through miles of separation, and through generations.
It took years to discover a family secret: sisters she didn’t know she had. But wherever she found family, they were eating something delicious.
In a 400-soul German village, a daughter learned that food is sacred. Decades later and thousands of miles away, that lesson has even more importance.
Melissa L. Weber
There was pride of place about having a recipe in the kindergarten cookbook. But the teacher insisted that only real recipes were acceptable.
As a child, she often went hungry. As an adult, she wanted to feed people. As a mother, she extracted a tacit promise that she would be repaid with adoration.
Her mother named her Zarela because it would look good in lights. Then she helped her become one of the culinary world's leading lights.
A new stepfather brought chaos into her life, and her mother could barely be coaxed from her bed. But one day, in a pie-baking mood, everything changed.
Mom enlisted her daughters as helpers in the kitchen, Sarge-style, reflecting her experience in war-torn Korea.
She could dance on the expansive vinyl floors of their suburban home, but Mom had better things to do than cook there.
Mom was the black sheep in her family, willing to speak the truths that others preferred tucked tightly away, and inspiring her own strong daughters.
Mom liked to “put on the dog” for others, but the fear of something going wrong generally led to an outburst, and a good slapping once the company left.
The family's history puts the tragedy of a pandemic in perspective. But it is a time to look inward, to look for meaning, especially with Mom so many miles away.
A teen hooligan and a helicopter parent grow up to form an al dente bond through shared meals, finding ways to say "I’m sorry" and "I love you" with food.
A mother reintroduces herself to the three young daughters separated from her by custody arrangements.
Beef meant rules and regulations, calculations and ceremonies. Steaks were grilled—the domain of men. But Mother did what she did best—give orders.
In war-torn Europe, a young woman made dolls that she bartered for food, often just turnips. When she became a mother herself, turnips were off the table.
Mom didn't cook. Neither does her daughter. But a pandemic-inspired Zoom class provides an opportunity to learn.
A family log cabin in the woods sounds idyllic, but not when the contraption for cooking has Mum swearing and burning the food (and almost herself).