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Family Recipes — No You Can’t Have Them

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

“Omg these are delicious! I need the recipe!”

“This is so good. Can I have the recipe?”

“What’d you use to make this? It’s so flavorful.”

I come from a family that loves to cook. From the time I was little, I remember eating different foods with interesting flavors and textures. At the time, I didn’t know what I was eating, all I knew was that it tasted great. Certain dishes are beloved recipes & are holiday staples, or they’re made upon special request. Always delicious. Always comforting. Always like a warm hug when you need it most. As I got older and developed a love for cooking, I wanted to know — what’s in this dish?

My great grandma’s famous for her cinnamon sugar cookies and chorizo rice. As far back as I can remember, people have always wanted those recipes! The thing is that the only people who have access to them is my family. It was up to each of my great grandmother’s children to share the recipes with their children. And then the grandchildren with their children... and so on. It’s a very serious thing in my family — they guard those recipes closely. For example, if a cousin asks another cousin for the recipe? They’re sent back to their own parent to get it. It’s that serious. It’s a tradition which has carried on within each family as well — my aunt makes this incredible stuffing, homemade gray & corn muffins. Those recipes haven’t traveled outside of her children. They’re not shared with anyone outside of the nuclear family.

Sometimes people don’t understand why the recipes aren’t shared. They think it’s silly or bizarre to hold onto them. As an adult, I now understand why my family does this. When the person who put so much love into these dishes, who baked and cooked for decades, who built traditions and memories around food, is no longer with you, those recipes became part of their legacy. It’s something special that is ours & ours alone. It belongs to us, it connects us, it’s part of our identity.

I always wanted to make my great grandma’s cookies. Two years ago, I asked if I could have the cookie recipe — as a child of a grandchild, it was given to me. Of course, with the understanding that I wouldn’t share the recipe with anyone. With a hope that I’ll continue the tradition of making them at Christmas, involving my own children in the process, passing down the recipe to them — my great grandma’s great-great grandchildren. When I think of it in those terms, it fills me with pride. Also, I’m happy to report that everyone in the family said my cookies tasted exactly like my great grandma’s! In those moments it became clear to me that the most important ingredient ever used? Love.

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