Do you have to be rich or famous to leave a legacy? While we seem to use the word legacy more often with the celebrated and renowned, all of us have a way to leave behind the abundance of our lives. And, if you think about it, many of those memories, or legacies, are centered on food and the celebration of life with food.
I will always treasure my family and friends through the food they lovingly prepared for me. Top of the list is my Mamas Collard Greens (which I wrote about last November). My aunts cabbage and hard cornbread, a cousins chicken slick and a grapefruit salad with poppy seed dressing from Anne Haskins will fit the bill. Friends have chimed in with Pableaux Johnsons red beans and rice and Karl Knudsons many ways with fish. Neighbors have added as well: Linda Johnsons mac and cheese and Rachel Thomass deviled eggs. All have brought me profound joy at the table.
So what will my legacy be? What about yours?
What got me thinking about this is the arrival last month of my first grandson. Hes already headed in the direction of becoming a foodie, with a chef for a father and a mother who has always enjoyed great food. So what is to be my food legacy?
Oysters, when in season, are always part of any gathering of my clan. I loved the fact that even at an early age, my daughter had no fear of a raw oyster and as an adult will fight you for them. It has pained her during her pregnancy that raw oysters were off limits. So when shes ready, Ill crack open a few and make her a pan roast.
This recipe has been part of the holidays for 20 years at my house. If I didnt make it, Id be tarred and feathered. I even had the guts to prepare this for chef Ben Barker once. There are other recipes that would be called daddys or granddaddys recipe, but I know that in the end this pan roast will be my food legacy to my daughter, her son and his children to come.
For any one of us to sit at a table with family, friends or colleagues is a moment of genuine sharing the food, the stories and the lives. What will your story be on the plates of the future? I bet it will be an impressive one.
Fred Thompson is a cookbook author and publisher of Edible Piedmont. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link: