#16 Collect your Food Stories
For an upcoming article, I've been thinking (and writing) about the food I ate growing up. This has been a beautiful and challenging exercise that has revealed a few things about my relationship with food. I bring it up as I recently had the opportunity to attend a virtual gathering put on by the Berkshires grocery store Guido's Fresh Market in concert with the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP that I mentioned in my previous newsletter.
This was a conversation with Michael Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South. The gathering was part of the store's Cookbook Club, and that month they were reading and discussing Twitty's book.
Much of the conversation that night was about collecting and sharing stories, honoring the ancestors, and the many ways that African-American history is all American history.
Twitty talked about James Hemmings, the first classically trained French chef who brought to the Americas dishes that are now food staples of today, such as french fries, vanilla ice cream, and more. Twitty talked about the process of collecting his own families' stories, learning about his ancestors, and keeping their memories alive.
I am fortunate to have reconnected with my biological family (I was a ward of the state, aka a foster kid). I'm slowly collecting the dishes from my Dominican and Italian-American family's food histories and traditions, as well as the food I ate growing up and the stories that go along with them.
One of the things I took away from the talk was what it means to be in the storyteller's position and documenting those stories: why we should record stories of places you've been to, the foods that moved you, and the people who made them. He also stressed the importance of why we should do this while we still have the memory to do so.
This talk also resonated with me as my parents and adults in my life age and traditions change, especially in 2020.
I've never had the opportunity to connect with Michael Twitty, save following him on Twitter, and his words hit me that evening. As a writer, I think about the moments in my day and my life that perhaps could result in telling a story to a larger audience or an article, and it's only lately I've thought about collecting and documenting these memories and conversations for a bigger purpose.
I'm not sure where this will go, but I will be writing down my memories and record those of my family members while we all still remember.
How do you collect and document your family's recipe or stories in general? Is there a family cookbook? Do you record their stories or your food stories? I've opened up the comments as a place to share how we document and share the food stories of our families.
What I've been working on:
Less published work the past few weeks but leaning into social media’s shifting to short form video, and with most things, trying it out and see how to work into my current work.
I've been posting content on Youtube! The platform has debuted Youtube Shorts (similar to Instagram Reels), which are bite-sized versions of content, up to 60 seconds. Much of what I've shared is similar to what's on Instagram reels, (short food moments, including lots of pasta!) as well as fun content for the platform.
I'm excited to share that I'll be a bi-weekly host on the Instagram Live stream of the Black Food Folks Instagram account on Thursdays at 3 pm. I'm excited to chat with some of my favorite folks in food and drink (not just beer!) This Thursday, I will be speaking Suhayl Ramirez, partner within TFLUXÈ and a recipient of the Urban Grape Wine Studies Award for Students of Color.
Speaking of interviews, I will be on the other side of the interview table? this week I’m kicking off Women's History Month this Thursday at 7 pm by talking about creativity with Jen from Atlanta Beer Boutique as part of her Beer, Biz + BS series.
Note: Jen is one of the founders of Craft Women Connect, a community of diverse women exploring craft beer and they host a weekly Women in Beer chat every Wednesday on Clubhouse which is one of happiest hours of my week.
Love The Red Lion Inn's porch and rocking chairs? They now have a fire cauldron to stand by. It is giving me some Ye Olde vibes. Yep, it's lit from 4-9 pm nightly.
Loving the can design of Hilltop Orchards Ciders on all varieties of Johnny Mash Hard Cider.
Olsen Farm in Lanesborough, Ma, is having a sale on honeycomb. If nothing else, check out and follow this small Berkshire farm!
Excited to share a few more home-based food business in the 518 in the Capital Region
PPANG BAKERY: Asian-Inspired Baked Goods in the Capital Region. I'm excited to try their milk bread!
Two.little.dumplings: frozen dumplings to cook in the comfort of your own home
Handmade in Greenville, NY
Vivalafresa makes chocolate-dipped strawberries and other chocolate treats.
I also encourage you to share what you'd like to see again on the Newsletter Feedback Form. If you have a spot you think should be featured, food news to share, or great food in the Berkshires or Capital Region, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram at StephanitaEats.