Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Lost Legacy



A family recipe is sometimes passed done with as much thought and care as an English estate.  "Not just anyone can be the custodian of my recipe" has been proclaimed by countless grandmothers over the years. Other recipes beg to be passed on, but find no willing takers.  Some, miss their chance to continue in the family lore and are lost.  My father's potato pancake recipe is one of those.

No one made potato pancakes like my father, at least no one that I have met.  They were not the latke type made out of shredded potatoes.  His were made from a batter and had a lightness about them that only led to you eating more of them.  Everyone loved them.  They became a symbol of family and celebration.  Nothing would make me happier to whip up a batch when far flung branches of the clan stopped by.  Only one problem, my father didn't teach me how to make them.

I would pop into the kitchen when he was making batch, only to be shooed away.  Then he got sick and thoughts were directed elsewhere.

Gray and rainy days find me in the kitchen, trying to reverse engineer those pillowy cakes of memories.  Trying to get the taste, texture and timelessness just right.  But I know, that they will never be my father's pancakes.  I can already hear the family proclaiming "These are great, but their just not Uncle Ray's".  You just can't whip up a batch of legacy.

10 comments:

Stephanie Venancio said...

John,
I can definitely relate to your post. I thought I had a lifetime to ask my Mom for her recipes--but it didn't work out that way. She made this incredible traditional Greek rice stuffing at Thanksgiving-- for years we all tried to replicate it with no success. I found a Greek cookbook with a similar recipe a few years back and with a tweak or two with the ingredients I finally heard the words that brought tears to me eyes,"Stephy, it tastes just like Mommy's". Keep searching and experimenting -- those potato pancakes might be in the next frying pan....

Fresh Local and Best said...

What a sweet story! Some things weren't meant to be replicated, you'll just have create a legacy of your own!

MaryMoh said...

Love reading your story. I love when people talk about their dad. I love my dad very much but my dad doesn't cook. He played lots with us when we were young. Well, it's time you create something and make sure you pass the recipe to your chuldren :)

Tasty Trix said...

That is so sweet - I know exactly what you mean. My mom didn't cook much at all, but I was lucky enough to get the recipes for her holiday dishes before she died .. all except for a mustard sauce, which I can taste in my head. The search continues ...

Chef Shari said...

Great story, thanks for sharing. I love potato pancakes especially with tomato soup (it is one of my childhood memories of cold days in MD)

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

Wonderful story and so true about family recipes. Some get handed down, but sadly most do not make it past the generation barrier. Sometimes, the only ingredient left out of a recipe is the love that was put into it by the one who made it special. And when you find the love and the passion, the great memories return and become true again.

5 Star Foodie said...

My grandmother was an excellent cook and of course she didn't write down her recipes nor did she measure anything either. Unfortunately she passed away before I was old enough to realize to ask her for more detailed instructions on all my favorite dishes. I do remember exactly how the dishes tasted and was able to recreate some of them such as her meatballs and stewed cabbage and russian-style profiteroles. Still working on recreating many others!

myblissfulbites said...

such a great heartfelt post, family recipes are definitely meant to be treasured. good luck with the pancakes

Anonymous said...

My Mom would add an egg or two to left-over mashed potatoes. Take a spoonful and mold it into a patty and saute in a little butter. Fluffy and yummy!

Goldie said...

Awww, that made me want to cry! :`(

My grandmother was an excellent cook, and I spent a lot of time in her kitchen. There are still some recipes that I watched her make, but didn't take notes on, and now I wish I had.

Try to be the same type of person; just like the one you are missing. Share your recipes with family. Some day, hopefully a long time from now, they will be remembering YOU with the same great affection.