So, in honor of Mother’s Day, we’re rounding up a handful of memories, lessons, and recipes the food team took away from our own moms. Hopefully they will bring back fond memories of your own of the matriarchs in your life – be they real or fictional.
Do you have a favorite recipe from your mom that you can share? Share it in the comments below!
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Tex-Mex tortilla and black bean salad, Above. “I remember her seeing cooking as a labor of love—but a job nonetheless,” writes Joe Yonan in an essay that accompanies his interpretation of the salad his mother made “every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every birthday.” In hindsight, I know Mom taught me that variety and experimentation are all well and good, but especially with a crowd to feed, there’s nothing wrong with a repertoire, even a small one, of dishes that work. “
cod cake. “My mother taught me to cook almost with osmosis. It happened every day in our house, and it made me go from watching to doing,” writes Ann Maloney. As part of “doing” — and as a way for her mother to take a break from her mealtime duties — she instituted Everyone’s Friday Lunch for herself. “Why Friday? Because after a week of public school teaching and, as she put it, ‘housework’, she was tired.”
Instant Pot Arroz with Pollo. Some recipes have been passed down from parents to children for generations. Others take a less direct route, as in the case of Daniela Galarza and this Puerto Rican-style arroz con pollo. “I learned to make Arroz con Pollo from my Iranian mother, who learned from my father’s mother and whose instincts in the kitchen – a super strong sense of smell, a perfect taste for slight flavor variations – taught me more about how to make it be a great cook than my overpriced cooking school.”
Runzas. “I’m a food writer without a defining childhood story,” writes Tim Carman. While he’s known today for scouring the DMV for the best grills and sandwiches, his tastes were much simpler when he was a kid in Nebraska. “I hated almost everything but my personal junk food troika of vending machine candy, grilled hamburgers, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” he writes. “The one dish I was devoted to, however, was my mother’s runza, a simple meatball that’s a staple of the Great Plains diet. Little more than baked dough balls stuffed with cabbage, onions and seasoned ground beef, Runzas suit my limited palate perfectly.”
Baked chicken thighs with butter and onions. I practically grew up in the kitchen, learning how to cook under my mother’s watchful eye. “While I love her time-tested recipes, I’ve also learned to embrace my zest for creativity and experimentation in the kitchen,” which I embraced in my interpretation of my mom’s baked chicken recipe.
Apple Sharlotka. “If your mother suddenly burst into the kitchen to bake a quick pie for the company, that pie would be an apple charlotka,” writes Olga Massov of her childhood in Russia. “The cake was a by-product of the ingenuity and ingenuity of Soviet women, fueled by a strong desire to show hospitality,” and could be made with a lack of ingredients, time, and equipment.
This Cream Cheese Cool Whip Pie. “[My mom will] Use words like “fancy” and “complicated” to describe what I’m up to with the implication that what she’s doing is too simple. But, you know what? Simple is good. Simple can be nutritious and time-saving, and it’s far less likely for a person – er, me – to stand in a flour and sugar-strewn kitchen and (not so) quietly curse my tendency to cling to long and complicated recipes, if I should probably be doing other things,” writes Becky Krystal. “My mom would also be refreshingly cheeky to follow recipes from food manufacturers. That’s how a popular dessert from Keebler got into our rotation.”
Cake of the world exhibition. “More than almost any heirloom from my childhood home – the fabulous photos of my late father, the toys of my childhood – it’s my mother’s recipe for her World’s Fair cake that I wished for the most,” writes Tom Sietsema. While there is immense value in learning how to prepare precious dishes and capturing them for posterity, sometimes the true prize is in the act rather than the result. “Something funny happened on the way to finishing these recipes. The mixing and measuring, the slicing and dicing – popping a cork out of a bottle of rosé – got us talking about the past, mostly theirs.”