recipe books


This is my mother's recipe book. Most of it was written into around the time I was born. All through my childhood it lived on the countertop among the daily debris of our kitchen life, among the bills and homework and never tidied away. So much a part of my mother's kitchen that it feels strange to have it here with me in Brighton now. The pages are food stained and faded and browned, the cover of the binder has long fallen off. There are doodles and scribblings from me and my siblings. Each recipe handwritten, in neat blue ink and I'm surprised how much my mother's writing looks like my sister's. An appendix of dishes - ones that were treasured in our house growing up - like 'scuffles' and 'chocolate biscuit cake'. And other ones that I've never heard of 'Picnic Pie' or 'Cold meatloaf' And the name of the person who gave mum the recipe is neatly written on the top right- hand corner. 

In my research, I started looking up old handwritten cookery books that are for sale on eBay. But there is something excruciatingly personal about these items. It doesn't feel right. It's like bidding on and buying someone's diary, someone who has passed away, so I can't tell the stories beyond the dishes. Some of these books have newspaper clippings, old letters stuffed inside, prayers. A book like this is deeply personal and a record of something much more than food. I keep returning to this idea of the domestic as a sacred space. And if so, the cookery book is like the principle text to access this world. It's the scripture of a universe inhabited by women.

What this has got to do with cabbage I have no idea.