How many culinary
wizards are in your family? Regardless of whether or not they were gourmet
chefs, the people in your family who were responsible for cooking and serving your
favorite – or not favorite- foods make for wonderful food stories. These are
the tales you want to share with others. So why not turn your remembrances of Aunt
Rose, Grandpa Joe or your mother in the kitchen or at the grill into the stuff
of food lore. These culinary kings, queens and paupers had a way with food that
is for one reason or another unforgettable and preserving them can be as simple
as spreading jam on bread.
Food lore is a category of folklore which refers to the
traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a people (folk) that is
shared in an informal manner (word of mouth, blog posts, etc.). Your food lore
- funny, happy, sad - tells others about special people, places and events in
For example, my cousin Douglas wrote a humorous food tale about
the summer his dad brought home an ice cream machine. In the 1940’s this old
fashioned hand cranked apparatus was the highlight of their family summer
where, living in the north San Francisco Bay Area with its mild Mediterranean
climate, outdoor dinners were commonplace.
The ice cream machine became more of a summer highlight for Uncle
Bob than it was Douglas. In fact, my uncle’s
explorations of various foods as ice cream flavors soon left the boy uninterested
in ice cream of any kind. What kid doesn’t love the creamy texture and rich
taste of vanilla, strawberries and/or chocolate, right? But surplus zucchini from
the summer garden ice cream?
Douglas’ food lore captured
Uncle Bob’s curious creativity. I myself would have never tried summer
vegetables ice cream, but it was wonderful to read about my cousin’s
experience. And Douglas really liked capturing
this story so that his children and grandchildren could read something about
Uncle Bob whom they never met.
So, if you’ve got a food story about how someone made the
perfect (or worst) lemonade or sweet potato pie, take a few minutes to write
down what you recall. You can include an optional recipe. But, remember, accuracy
isn’t always the point of a food tale.
My Aunt Pearl measures ingredients with her hand. “A palm
full of ground meat and a pinch of salt,” is how she determines how much of
what goes into her delicious keftikas (meat patties). And she learned from her
mother, an immigrant from Rhodes, who learned
from her mother who didn’t use measuring spoons.
Events make for wonderful food lore, too. The boyfriend of a
woman who loved to bake placed an engagement ring inside a bag of flour he
picked up for her on his way home from work. It wasn’t until she got ready to
bake a cake that she discovered his ‘proposal’. Now that’s a food tale worth
telling again and again.
Celebrate the food lore moments of your life by writing them
down or by recording them as a pod cast or video. Start with notes about a
family reunion, wedding, beach picnic or campfire meal then expand them into sentences
or paragraphs. In no time at all you will have chronicled your unique family culinary
moments for all time. And, who knows, you may inspire others to experiment with
their food ways – or at least discourage them from making homemade zucchini ice
Pierce Gonzalez is the
author of Black Pepper Visions: Original
Folk Tales & Stories You Can eat, Family Folktales: What Are Yours? and
the workbook Family Folktales: Write Your
Own Family Stories. She is a member of the Western States Folklore Society
and has facilitated numerous writing
workshops. An award-winning writer, her
work has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle,
WE Magazine for Women, Big Blend Magazine and others. Visit her at
folkheartpressblog.blogspot.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are You Ready to Generate the Media Visibility You Want?
Winter Lore #1, #2, #3
Editor, LOVE: Potions, Lotions & Lore
Pushcart Prize nomination
Editors' Choice, Farmhouse Magazine
She is a member of the Western States
Folklore Society and has 20+ years experience as a journalist, freelance writer and columnist (San Francisco Chronicle, Patch.com, etc.). Big Blend Magazine's "Queen of Folklore", her credits
also include facilitating writing workshops and being CEO of Karen Pierce Gonzalez Public Relations, a pr firm that promotes clients who inspire and improve the lives of others. What Others Are Saying “A
delightful collection of folktales that will surprise, entertain and
inspire readers to “dig in” and take that second helping into the next
chapter. Beautifully written with vivid imagery of times past. A
lovely gift for the foodie on your list or for your own kitchen library.
Well done!” - Jennifer Melnick Carota, Just Keep the Dish
pepper swirls that absorb anger, tortillas that mend broken-hearts, and
sundried cookies that encircle a cheating spouse (again) are only three of 16
fast-paced stories in Black Pepper
Visions: Original Food Stories You Can Eat (revised).This 2016 eBook(FolkHeart Press #978-0-9983938-0-3), written by Karen Pierce Gonzalez,
captures the magic of food through a range of original folktales and
contemporary stories, food lore and personalized recipes.
“Complete with its culinary wizardry and fascinating
historical roots that literally span centuries and continents, food lore about
how we grow, prepare, and eat our food allows us to creatively preserve
important cultural traditions and beliefs. And these are what sustain and
protect us,” said Gonzalez, a folklorist, journalist and author of several
books including Family Folktales: What Are Yours? (FolkHeart Press).
Karen Pierce Gonzalez is an award-winning fiction and
nonfiction writer.Her other books
include Family Folktales: What Are Yours?
and Family Folktales: Write Your Own Family Stories.
She has been interested in folktales and folklore for more
than two decades and has facilitated writing classes and workshops for more
than fifteen years. Her writing credits include nomination for the Pushcart
Prize and awards from Farmhouse Magazine, National League of American Pen
Women, California Writers Association. Her work has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, North Bay Biz
Journal, Australian Trade Community
Journal, Verde, Sonoma Mandala, and Zahir
Tales as well as other magazines and newspapers.
Established in 2007, FolkHeart Press books also include Moose Mash and Other Stories, Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from
Heartbreak to Healing and Spanish
Cuisine One Region at a Time: Catalonia.
Black Pepper Visions: Original Food Stories You Can Eat
(revised) is available for $4.99 at Folkheartpress.com, Amazon and Smashwords. Details: