This Thanksgiving Dinner Was Brought To You By...

Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish was what finally woke us up. Attributions are a vital ingredient to that get added after a recipe is passed along, often without the original chef's knowledge.

We've been eating Val's rolls at family gatherings for as long as I've been on solid foods, but once when my mother mentioned them to Val's granddaughter--who then asked Val--Val said she wondered if she'd ever made such rolls. She doubted it.

Winifred's granddaughter, meanwhile, called on Wednesday to ask my mother a recipe question. My mother--whose tenure as the food editor of the local paper followed and was dwarfed by Winifred's--said, oh, you should have her bring something. Her cranberry relish. It's Susan Stanberg's recipe, but she gave it to me years ago. Within five minutes, Winifred called my mom to find out what her own cranberry relish recipe was, because she'd just been asked to bring it. When they're passed along, recipes get marked and remembered by the recipient, and every taste ever after is a one-way mnemonic trigger of the connection.

Also on the table:

  • Doris Epps' sweet potatoes
  • Grandma Mary's sausage stuffing
  • Grandma Mary's bread [which has since been commercialized by a distant cousin and is available fresh every day at a local bakery.]
  • Aunt Marilyn's coconut bavarian cream pie [which, we suspect, actually originated on the back of an ancient bag of coconut flakes. Someone at Kraft needs to send Aunt Marilyn a check.]

  • Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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