Recalling a mother's generous approach to food in an era of limited choices
I was going to bring something to the office for the holidays the other day. I pulled out my mother's baking sheets and thought, but only for a moment, that I should make a couple dozen chocolate chip cookies, straight from the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips, just as my mother did every year at Christmas.
I didn't. You can't serve your nostalgia that way. Only in memory. I remember that when I was a boy, my mother was the best cook in the neighborhood.
Lots of sons remember their mother's cooking as being the best. But my mother's cooking really was the best in my neighborhood. In the 1950s, I lived among families who had known the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, who had gone through wartime rationing, among housewives who knew food only as the opposite of going hungry, among husbands in their early 30s who insisted on eating poorly because they had been poor most of their lives. On the tract house plains of South Gate, Downey, north Long Beach and Bellflower, meals reflected what you still stubbornly held on to. And if you ate to remember, many of the memories were of loss. Click here for the rest of D.J.'s story.Illustration credit: Justin Renteria / For The Times