What Makes a Good Food Memoir (besides recipes)

Holiday meals tend to be full of traditional family dishes, and they have their stories. Where did they come from, how long have they been in the family, have they evolved, and most important, what memories do they bring up? Who is the source of your memories about these foods and do you want to capture the recipes and stories into a book for the family?

Recipe books are popular but so are food memoirs which bring life and history to recipes. Years ago I interviewed my mother-in-law, raised in the West Tennessee countryside and known for her wonderful southern cooking, to write a little memoir to go along with some of our favorite recipes of hers. The memoir tells her stories of growing up poor in a farming family and working hard in the fields even as a small child. Stories that hold history and rural southern culture lead to recipes. While I and my girls may not ever use most of her recipes (lest we gain too much weight!), we do use some and treasure them all as they remind us of her and the wonderful meals she has blessed us with.

This post was prompted by a “Book Riot” post of the same title “What Makes a Good Food Memoir,” by Jaime Herndon, November 26, 2021. She says, “Food memoirs aren’t just about the food itself or just about how much one likes a certain food. They dig in to the emotional aspect of food, cooking, and eating.” And so if you save the family recipes, why not add commentary about who made the dish special and the memories the food conjures. What are the stories around it. Instead of having just a recipe, make it into a savory story for the generations.


About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; author of Poems That Come to Mind, for caregivers of dementia patients; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), poetry, and cats
This entry was posted in capturing memories, heritage, history, holiday, traditions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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