I’ve tried unsuccessfully to recreate my husband’s grandmother’s chocolate pie. According to him, she made the best chocolate pie in the entire state of Iowa. I’ve followed her recipe…to the letter…and he swears it’s not the same.
To be fair, I can’t taste the difference. I’ve had hers. I’ve had mine (with her recipe). Same. The only difference is mine isn’t wrapped in the memories of his grandmother. That I can’t replicate.
In my little baking business, sometimes people call and ask if I can bake something using their Great-Great Aunt Tootie’s recipe. I love the idea of honoring a relative with their own food but worry the cake won’t stand up to the test. However closely I follow Tootie’s instructions, I’m not Tootie. That essential ingredient of her will be missing.
There’s something about food that brings us back: to childhood, to sitting around your grandmother’s kitchen table, to summer camp. The smells and tastes are ingrained in our memory as vividly as any photograph.
This week, I baked a delicious lemon pound cake for a client using her mother’s recipe. It had the thick density of old fashioned goodness. Since a friend and I are putting together a small reception for some area seniors who will come to watch the Fourth Grade music program, I make the same thing. It feels like the right choice.