Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Mama Rewind: Food and Family

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Welcome to Literary Mama Rewind!  Every few weeks we'll round up some of our favorite essays, stories, poems, columns, and reviews from the Literary Mama Archives relating to a particular theme.  This week we're looking at the Food that ties the Family together. All you have to do is click and read....


Thou Shalt Not leave the table until bellies groan and spouses frown.

No, no human being should be walking in the searing, suffocating heat of this mid-afternoon hour. And yet, my family of five has set out for a stroll.

I keep mum when my daughter Maggie tells me that she's baking a sugar-free birthday cake for my five-year-old granddaughter. She's reaching out to me for the first time in years, and I sure don't want to muck things up.

"What do you want him to do, starve? Eat nothing but blue raspberry popsicles from now on?" Julia screeched at him then. Maybe not screeched exactly, but that's how she sounded to Kevin all the time lately, borderline hysterical. "There are no truly blue foods in nature," she reminded him for the thousandth time, as she peeled the potatoes that she'd mash (for all of them) and dye blue (for Howie).

Food stories can be aspirational; they can tell of a cuisine, culture, or community. They might be about sourcing ingredients, a family dinner, a dessert. Sometimes they're prescriptive; other times, they offer a vicarious thrill. But the best food stories, as writers like M.F.K. Fisher proved decades ago, aren't just about food. Instead, they tell us something about ourselves and the world we live in.

Nourishing our children is a mother's most primal instinct. The urge to provide begins at conception with the awareness that what feeds our body also builds our child, and continues through breast or bottle, first sweetpea purees, and full knife-and-fork family meals.

The chickens in question were the five chickens we had raised and "processed" with Meg, our neighbor up the road. And by "we" I mean Chris. When Meg asked if we wanted to raise chickens with her I said, "No way," and Chris said, "Sure."

  • Cravings by Amy Mercer from the Column "Chronic Mama"

"Mom, can we go to Old Macdonald's for dinner?" Will asked as the golden arches loomed in his back seat window. I never corrected him. I liked that he associated a childhood song about animals and farms with the fast food giant.

Amanda Jaros is a freelance writer living in Ithaca, NY. Her essay “Blood Mountain” won the 2017 Notes From the Field contest at Flyway Journal. Other work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including, NewfoundLife in the Finger Lakes Magazine, Highlights for Children, and Cargo Literary. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Chatham University.

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