CLAY POT contributor Terri Gilson, whose story Edie K’s Many Food Atrocities and poem The Pierogi Party was featured in our Memory Issue, speaks to the team about how food is vital to our process of memory making and how we realise this only as we age
How important is food to you and what are your earliest memories associated with food?
Food is my fun – my creative outlet. It nourishes both my physical side as well as my creative side. I love to create art out of food, develop interesting recipes for competitions and write about food. My earliest memories of food are my comfort food, which are very simple recipes, like my mom’s macaroni, cheese and tomatoes, my grandma’s butter tarts and the Ukrainian food my Baba made (pierogies, Easter bread and borsch).
Why did you choose to write about your mom’s cabbage rolls and pierogies for Clay Pot?
I chose to write about two of my comfort foods (cabbage rolls and pierogies) . I think my cabbage roll story fits well with the theme of Clay Pot, because it is about my memories of growing up, the coming together of two cultures and my parents’ attitude towards food. The poem, The Pierogi Party, is all about how vital comfort foods are in the making of memories. I wanted to express how blind we are to the significance of this process of memory making when we are young, and talk about the tragic compromises of our youthful ignorance, the carrying on of cultural food traditions from generation to generation and how much more significant these things become as we age.
What are your thoughts on the present situation of writing on food and food culture?
Everyone loves and needs food. Nowadays, there is good readership for food writing. And, thanks to food blogs, there are so many writers. But to stand out from the crowd, you need to create interesting, relevant and original content. Food, I feel, is like music – there is room for many artists, but not many artists make hits.
Why do you think we need to discuss about food and culture?
This dialogue is important because so much of what one eats defines what we are and what are not, culturally speaking. A recent study, published in The Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies, examined the relationship between food, culture and identity. Because culture is learned, not inherited, many people affiliate the foods from their culture (and their childhood) with warmth, good feelings and memories.
If our readers want to take a look at more of your work, where can they find it?
More of my writing, recipes and art can be found on my blog, Food Meanderings.