BlogHer Food Interviews: Telling Community Stories & History Through Food

BlogHer Original Post

This week's BlogHer Food '13 interview brings us three fantastic ladies who know a thing or two about food and storytelling. Our panelists from the Telling Community Story and History Through Food session are sure to inspire you to pass your bits of culture and history through your food writing as well. I asked them:

Would you please share a quick story about how you are passing down your culture through your food blog? (You may link to a previous post with a quick blurb about why you love it so.)

Claudia Kousoulas shows that we are busy making our own family culture right in this moment, in the here and now.

Though my blog is mostly about reviewing cookbooks, as soon as one enters my kitchen it becomes part of my and my family’s food culture -- from the flaming piece of tin foil escaping our attempt at beer can chicken, to the cake that now everyone asks for.

The books don’t always inspire me to cook but they always give me entry into a world of kitchens. The stories and recipes in every cookbook inspire me to look at the food around me in a new way, and find new meaning in the simplest dishes -- from Thomas Jefferson’s macaroni and cheese to the first mind-blowing taste of Indian pudding.

When I look over my blog I see a patterns of nostalgia, resourcefulness, and curiosity about my own community. They come together to create my food culture, one that I share with my family in every experimental dish from a new cookbook and every new season of local food. A pile of old Gourmet magazines or a spattered recipe for Indian pudding; ratafias distilled on the windowsill from my inspired combinations of fruits and spices; excursions to food truck festival or a Korean burger joint are the culture from my kitchen.

Don't forget to check out Claudia's site before the panel.

Donna Pierce shares a bit about her mother, her past, and how the importance of food and family were passed down to her.

I was raised during the Civil Rights movement, and my mother (Dr. Muriel Williams Battle) was an educator who served her family hot breakfasts every morning and wonderful dinners each night. She and my dad had moved from the Gulf Coast to Missouri for jobs in education and a chance to raise their children away from the deep South.

Much later, as an adult, when I asked Mom how she managed her full-time job, graduate school and these amazing meals, she said that she had promised herself that her children would grow up proud of their roots, including our wonderful family Creole recipes. She believed, as I do now, that family recipes need to be passed down because they represent and offer much more than delicious food. Looking back, I think of our family dinners as giving us strength, courage, lessons in gratitude and humility...(and an appreciation for gumbo, shrimp Creole and other family dishes). Around the dinner table, we knew we came from a long line of wonderful people, and we knew we were loved.

I am the oldest of four children, and the photos I combined in this image remind me of the precious times when I had my amazing mother all to myself.

My mom, who passed away 10 years ago, made a difference in a lot of people's lives. The new school opening in Columbia, Missouri September, 2013 is named Muriel Williams Battle Senior High School.

Donna also included two other links to her blog about family and food: Kitchen Shadow and Lessons from Our Mothers in Black and White. You can follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook.

Vianney Rodriquez points out how closely food is attached to memories of our childhood.

Food is an extension of culture, an extension of a family’s love passed from one generation to another. A memory captured on a fork, a smell that instantly transports you to your childhood or a taste that reminds you of a special time, day or place.

Highlighting the recipes of my culture gives me the ability to share the flavors of my childhood, honor my family and with these plates I introduce my children to their heritage.

Food for me is greatly tied to memories, family and moments in my life that have made me who I am today. Sharing these recipes along with my story allows me to preserve my past, share my heritage and chronicle these memories for family.

Mexican Pizza ~ Tlayuda con Chorizo y Frijoles:

Up until my 17 birthday I spent every summer in Mexico with my grandmother. Street food like raspa, a roasted elote or a plate of taquitos con salsa y cilantro the street vendors had it all! One summer I ate my first Tlayuda and they have been an addiction ever since. Recreating Mexico’s street food in my kitchen allows me to savor my childhood.

You can find more of Vinnaey at Twitter and Facebook.

Addie Broyles will moderate this session.

Telling Community Stories and History Through Food takes place on Day One, June 7, 2013, from 3:00pm-4:30pm. Here's more of what you can expect from this panel:

In all the discussion around personal brand, and despite all the ways blogging helps us establish our unique individual voice, it is also a way to pass down those unique cultural touchpoints that make us who we are. Combining new technology with old knowledge can help shape stories, pass down traditions, and strengthen communities. Get advice and inspiration on how to use foodways – tradition, techniques, and ingredients through time and across cultures - to spice up your stories and tell the tales of your community. We’ll close this panel with a community food story shared by a member of our BlogHer Food community.

Not yet registered for BlogHer Food '13? You can register now and join us in Austin, TX this June 7th and 8th!


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog.