Sunday, April 30, 2017

Family Style, the official announcement

Publication Announcement
Family Style: the recipes of Helen Marchese

In the summer of 2016, my sister sent me a text message. “Would you like our grandmother’s recipes?” “Of course!” I replied. “OK, but you should know that the recipe for bread sticks begins “1 package hot dog buns.” I was both fascinated and terrified.

My grandmother was born into a Greek family in 1921, and, as with many Greek families, mealtimes took place at the family diner. Family meals were an occasion more social than culinary; my memories of childhood Thanksgivings were of burnt pie and soggy vegetables. Yet, when the recipes arrived, unsorted, in a manilla envelope, I was charmed. These recipes were shared at bridge groups, in libraries, while volunteering, written onto whatever piece of paper was available. The tidy handwriting unifies the eclectic mix of papers, letterhead, receipts, and to-do lists. These 86 recipe cards were collected, compiled, edited, and expanded upon throughout the life of Helen Marchese, primarily from the late 1940s through the 1980s.

As domestic cooking becomes more and more professional, and personal recipe collections are held online rather than in boxes or in notebooks, it is reassuring to look back through the physical remnants of cookery and the exchange of favorite recipes, when the moment of sharing a recipe with a friend was perhaps more important than the finesse of preparation. These recipes tell both the story of an immigrant family learning to cook “American style,” and the shared social tradition of food.

Endpapers from Paul Bercy, Simples Notions de Francais, New York, 1894. Printed on Mohawk Superfine on an Indigo printer. Bound in a three part binding with stamped linen spine and gingham fabric over boards. Edition of 50. 2017. $200.