Mothers and Daughters
Voices Past and Present
Stories and Recipes
Mom married into a restaurant family, even went into labor with her daughter while closing late one night. But family time was about conversation, not food.
For the child of a woman incapable of mothering, finding unspoiled food thrown away outside a grocery store was like Christmas.
In a house on the dividing line between two rival gangs in Southern California, there was a knock on the door while Amá was making breakfast.
Pei Ja Anderson
A 21st-century daughter dreams of having a 1950s mother, with the aromas of pot roast and sugar cookies wafting from the kitchen.
As a girl, it was a big deal to have a downtown lunch and shopping trip with Mom. Embarrassment in the underwear aisle was not part of the fun.
When her daughter was being bullied and needed to talk about whom she could trust, Mom would ask her to come into the kitchen while she was cooking.
Great-grandma Fanny’s cast-iron pan traveled from New York City to Provence—compensation for a treasure that was unceremoniously dumped by Mom.
As the only girl in a large immigrant family, Mom was like a second mother in the household—a difficult dynamic that would play out with her own daughter.
Aimee Lee Ball
August brings memories of lobster rolls and salt water taffy, of sneaking blueberries away from snakes, but also dates that mean missing Mom.
Eileen Vorbach Collins
A young girl has an Aha moment about the meat on her plate. Decades later, her own daughter has the same concern, but sadly turns her distress inward.
At home together during the pandemic, mother and daughter found they'd lost the habit of living as a family. So they organized a family cooking contest.
Sara Kass Eifler
Mom understood commitment, even if she didn’t always understand her daughter. So when that daughter became vegan, Mom got to work.
Deborah A. Lott
As Mom ate bird-sized piece of meat with her head cast downward, she made it clear that she had chosen self-sacrifice over self-gratification.
Treats make you fat: That was Mom's message. But ice cream was in a class of its own—a happy place and an offer of comfort when things went wrong.
Mother and daughter used to punctuate their errands with heaping plates from the mall's Indian buffet, but post-surgery, spicy food became an assault for Mom.
A childhood of hunger meant that food was everything to Mom—her joy and satiety, escape from a sad life—but for her daughter, it was rebellion.
Having an aging mother 100 miles away led to a nearly constant state of anxiety for her daughter. That concern often translated into cooking.
Maria Fe Picar
Mom had tons of recipes, preserving a Filipino heritage, but never passed them on to her daughter, although it would take her years to find out why.
The slender fingers of Mom’s left hand coated chicken first in egg, then bread crumbs. Her right hand might hold a cigarette, or a glass of wine.
In Uzbekistan, the Eid festival marking the end of Ramadan includes the national rice dish of plov. So a nervous daughter must learn from Mom to prepare it.
Tonia Renee Lee
For a school paper, a daughter wrote that her mom was her best friend—such an unusual choice that the school administrator thought something was wrong.
A Lucy-and-Ethel incident in the kitchen became a tender mother-daughter moment, thanks to the calm of a consummate Marine Corps officer’s wife.
Mom had a sunny disposition and a zany personality, but cooking was not her strong suit, even in the hearth of a home that had been a Civil War hospital.
Mom’s attempt at protection felt like punishment and led to rebellion. Her prediction—“One day you’re going to have a child just like you”—was prescient.
While living in the family's old mobile home, storms were scary. So Mom began a practice of making pancakes to soothe her daughters.
Mom and her three sisters constitute an Italian-flavored version of Little Women, each with her own distinct cooking personality.
Mom left home and traveled North for a promised sense of worth. But not all memories of the South were troubling, like the groaning table of desserts.
Stripping stems from collard greens with Mama and the aunties was an opportunity to learn about being of service to others and making your voice heard.