My grandmother saved seeds; my grand-daughters are served non-GMO food whenever possible. This one sentence, personal vignette is a story of five generations of women. It involves changes in farming, from truck gardens to agribusiness. It is a reflection of how women procure food for their families. Hints, implications, context, and reference are implicit nuance, almost incidental, in all we document and share. Cultivate that richness. Layer meaning.
So much of women’s history, the real nitty gritty bits of everyday lives, involves food.
When writing about your family history, writing your memoir, or planning for a weekend with family, consider including food conversations and activities. They are so integral to life that we forget how evocative they are.
The politics of food is women’s business, and always has been either overtly or covertly. The price of staples, the quality of produce outlets whether they are farmers markets or big box stores, locations bakeries used for weekly purchases or seasonal celebrations, and where to find the best cut of meat for a good price and where to purchase a Christmas ham — women in charge of a household or family have very strong views on these subjects. There are always exceptions, and customs change from generation to generation, but cultural lifeways are taken personally given great importance.
Water and food are life. And family water and food concerns largely fall to women the world over. Food blogs are everywhere, and some of the best blog templates are designed with food in mind. Recipes are wonderful repositories of family culture. With a tiny bit of effort nuance can be folded in as easily as egg whites.
For example, my mother used half of an empty egg shell as the basic measure for ingredients when adding liquid to the dry ingredients when making egg noodles. No three tablespoons of milk or 1/4 cup of milk in these family recipes can be directly used with any reliability. Mom knew that her mother used half an egg shell of milk when a 1/4 cup was called for. That is family history. It also implies that the shells from the eggs from her hens were sturdy enough to hold up to being used as a measuring cup. It also meant that different size eggs would adjust liquid automatically. Flour was already adjusted through kneading and the addition of flour until the proper elasticity was reached.
Share the little things you remember. It might not really be so little after all.