Monday, August 30, 2010

Welcome Author Louisa Edwards and Tell Her Your Best Food Memory!

When I got engaged, my mother’s friends threw me a bridal shower back home in Virginia. My fiancé and I had been living in Manhattan since college, and while the food in the city is undeniably wonderful, there’s a big part of my heart (and stomach!) that belongs to the food I grew up with: the big, bold, comforting, warm flavors of the South. NYC has almost every kind of food you can think of—but true Southern cooking is thin on the ground. After five years in the big city, I missed my comfort food!

So I made a special request of my mother and her friends: instead of silver candlesticks and monogrammed towels, I asked that each of them gift me with a favorite family recipe.

Being Southern, the ladies gave me candlesticks and linens anyway, but the bridal shower gift I’ll always treasure is the big, blue three-ring binder holding those precious, handwritten recipe cards. That binder, along with my dogs and my laptop, is one of the things I’d grab if the house were on fire!

Those recipes hold the accumulated kitchen wisdom of several generations of women, all of whom lived and cooked in Virginia, where the bounty and rhythm of the seasons inevitably infused their kitchens. I have everything in that binder, from the lightest, fluffiest white angel biscuits (perfect for sopping up red-eye gravy) to the only lemon meringue pie I’ve ever eaten that’s actually tart enough to pucker my mouth.

When I sat down to write On the Steamy Side, my second Recipe for Love novel, I knew the heroine was from the South. From the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, in fact! (What a coincidence, right?) And I knew that cooking was in her blood, in her heart, and in every one of her important childhood memories, just the way it is in mine.

Not all of my heroines are so lucky; for instance, Dr. Rosemary Wilkins, in my newest book, Just One Taste, is more interested in the science behind a finished dish than she is in the food itself. But one thing my characters have in common is that they all eventually learn what I believe to be true: that food has the power to evoke strong emotions and to connect us with other people in ways both intimate and eternal. Food is love.

Tell me your best food memory! How does it make you feel to cook or eat that dish now, years later? We have a signature Recipe for Love prize set, including a copy of my new book, for the best comment . . .


Linda Henderson said...

When I got married at 18, at my bridal shower everyone gave me a recipe with their gift. My most treasured one was a recipe from my future mother-in-law for meatloaf and rice. It was a wonderfully simple recipe and I was heartbroken when I lost it in a move. She is gone now, so I can't get it again to give to my daughter, her first granddaughter. She would have treasured it since it was in her handwriting.

seriousreader at live dot com

Barbara V said...

When I was in graduate school I spent an entire day pinning down my grandmother for her favorite recipes. I've got cards in her writing plus photocopies of her favorites with her annotations and "tweaks" to ingredients, etc. Some of the recipes go back to the 1930s! Now that she has passed away I feel so lucky to have spent that time with her because every time I open up my recipe book I remember her.

Sara L said...

For every big family get together my grandma used to make Kolache (not sure if that's the proper spelling but that's how grandma spelled it!). As she started to get older, my brother, a cousin and I decided someone else in the family needed to learn how to make these delicious treats. The problem was that my grandma didn't have an actual recipe, she just new how to do it. We tried to get her to write it down for us, but they never came out right. So finally around Christmas one year we decided that we would just have to videotape her making the cookies. It was one of the best days I have had, spent with 3 of my favorite people in the world. Now that my grandma has passed away, it is a treasured memory for my brother, cousin and I. Plus, we can all finally make the Kolache the right way now!!

Virginia said...

I can totally hear what you are saying. I actually connect certain foods with the people who made them. The two that stand out the most is my aunt Opals peach cobbler. Every time I make one I think of her and family reunions. The other is what my family calls GG beans. It is a pot of pinto beans made the way our Great Grandmother made them. We use to go to her house every saturday to eat and visit and she always had a pot made. Both her and my aunt have since passed away, but making things that they did does bring back memories and emotions.

Louisa Edwards said...

Linda - That's so sad! Moving is tough, it's terribly easy for things to go missing.

Barbara - Exactly how I feel; every time I open up my recipe binder, I get a powerful sense of the women who shaped my childhood.

Sara - Yum, kolaches! I live in Austin, where those are a big deal. And very delicious. :) I love the idea of video taping the cooking process!

Virginia - Isn't it funny how specific dishes become associated with certain people? Our brains really work that way!

Nicole said...

When I was a little girl my grandpa used to drive the half a mile to out house on Saturday mornings so my parents could sleep in. He would bring me back to his house, and my grandmother would always have hand made cinnammon rolls ready for me. Oh they were so good. My mouth is just watering now just thinking out it! She would hand make the frosting too. DELICIOUS!

Amy said...

From Amy: Thanks to all for your great stories. I now want to make all these things.
Sara L has been selected as the winner! Sara - please send me your email and snail mail address at so you can get your prize!