My Mom got married to my Dad at the young age of 20 years old. Now she was very mature for her age having had many responsibilities at home and attending university and having a job on the side. One of her responsibilities, growing up was preparing meals for her parents and siblings. Her Mother (my grandmother) taught her how to make pasta and tomato sauce with meatballs and your typical Italian meals. So when my Mom was married she would prepare these meals for my Dad. My Mom isn’t your average “Italian” born woman. She grew up with friends of whom were of different ethnicities so she knew that there was more than just pasta and meatballs in the world of food.
During my parents first year of marriage my Mom prepared and experimented with some different recipes and some were hits and others were misses. She knew she needed some help. So, that Christmas my Mom asked my Dad to buy for her a cookbook. This cookbook wasn’t your average cookbook. At the time it was THE cookbook of all cookbooks, The Culinary Arts Institute Cookbook. This cookbook has about 15 chapters and over 2000 different recipes covering everything from macaroni and cheese to Thanksgiving feasts, to soups and salads, seafood, microwave oven meals, (because the 1970s was when the microwave was introduced into the middle class home) baking sweets and much more. My Mom knew that this cookbook would be able to teach her how to make any meal. And it did!
When my brother was born and later when I was born, she experimented and used the cookbook more to try new recipes on us. With this cookbook we made long-lasting traditions during the holidays. At Christmas time we bake sugar cookies and Christmas cakes with the recipes that we have come to love from this cookbook. My Mom has learned about spices and flavour combinations from this cookbook. She learned the best technique to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving. Even I have used this cookbook to bake cakes for my friends and have used some of the recipes as inspiration for some of my best photographs yet.
So you see, a cookbook can be used as a guide, a teacher, an encyclopedia, and tradition maker. My parents have been married now for over 30 years and very rarely does my Dad complain about my Mom’s cooking. So she must have learned something beneficial from her pals at the Culinary Institute. You would think so because of how tattered the big book is!