Before the invention of the internet, people had to find recipes in magazines and newspapers, on the backs of boxes and plastic wrappers and jars, in cookbooks and handwritten on recipe cards. There was no Pinterest. There was no Google. If you lost that scrap of paper your grandma had scratched her wisdom on, you were screwed forever.
Around Thanksgiving, I tried to make my mom’s pumpkin bread. But I couldn’t find the recipe, it was no doubt already packed up in a box, in preparation for our impending move. I scoured the internet, but couldn’t find anything that looked right. Finally, I settled on one that seemed close enough. But it wasn’t. Pumpkin bread was ruined. I didn’t even attempt fudge.
Tonight, we unearthed the box of recipes in our new kitchen and took our time going through some of them. Most of them were from my mom’s house, saved from the dumpster after she died. We sifted through the scraps, the thin paper and plastic ripped or carefully cut from the various media my mother relied upon for information of the domestic sort. We found handwritten recipes stuffed into books, dog-eared pages for meals she wanted to make at some point. Carefully folded pieces of paper containing my grandmother’s sweet dough concoction. All of it causing a swell of bittersweet goodness in my chest. The pumpkin bread recipe! The fudge! It was all here for me to make at Christmas, scrawled in Mom’s perfect handwriting.
And there were other recipes, too. For casseroles and pies, spicy jerk chicken and pasta salads. Fancy appetizers and tarts. Meals and desserts she lovingly sought out and saved for her family.
All I could think, as we put the books on their new shelves where we can always find them from now on, was, “My mom never made any of this shit.”
So I guess I, here from the Pinterest generation, am not so different from my mother after all.