Speaking of Food



Editor Rick Broussard

Photo by John Hession

In my family’s kitchen hangs an embroidery hoop of cross stitching that reads, “Squash Delight: ‘Best Vegetable Recipe Ever’ — Mrs. D.W. Spurlock.”

The entire recipe is preserved there as a tribute to my mother’s mother who was a semi-vegetarian and a most formidable woman — part Martha Stewart, part Joan Crawford. Eating at her table was an exercise in discipline and woe be to anyone who chewed with an open mouth or leaned over the plate to take a bite.

But her Squash Delight was delicious, she could cook a perfect ham (one meat she permitted herself) and I also remember the crisp white toast she made most mornings in her gas stove, perfuming the entire house with the smell of butter. My father’s mother was the “kindly” grandparent and when we’d visit her in Lafayette, Louisiana, sometimes arriving in the middle of the night, she would drop everything and make us all hand-cut fried potatoes and Cajun coffee milk.

My mother was famous for her loaves of rich brown bread, laced with honey and intended to be consumed right out of the oven with whole sticks of butter and slabs of sharp cheese or dunked into one of her stews.

These were all remarkable women, multifaceted, talented, determined and loving, but the thing I remember best about each of them is the memories they created and the lessons they taught with food. Lesson one was this: food is not just nutrition, it’s a universal language, subtle, complex and persuasive.

Today’s Women of Food featured in this issue are articulate speakers of this language who understand its potential. Food unites us, preserves cultures and inspires exploration and sharing. Food is a fundamental force and the way we create and consume it says much about how we look at the world, how we treat our environment and who we are as people. The old chauvinist chestnut goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” It only takes a tiny edit to make that more correct: “the way to humanity’s heart is through its stomach.”

Today my family has a new crop of remarkable women of food. My youngest daughter, a member of Food Corps, has become the culinary conscience of the family, inspiring us to seek out humane and local sources for our cuisine. (She also seems to have inherited my mother’s bread-making gene.) My older daughter, an artist by disposition and training, is swiftly transcending my own (substantial) skills as an amateur chef. I’m confident both of them are destined to provide future generations with their own culinary memories preserved in family legend. And I believe that each of them will communicate eloquently in the language of food to make the world a better, happier place.


Squash Delight

1 pound squash, cooked, drained, buttered
1 tsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I prefer yogurt)
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts or nuts (water chestnuts are the classic version)
1/2 cup grated cheese (I prefer extra sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green pepper or pimiento
salt, pepper to taste

Mix into casserole. Top with bread or cracker crumbs. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 degree for 30-40 minutes until brown.

This is the original recipe as transcribed from a 3x5 card that was hand-written by my grandmother. We've made lots of minor adaptations over the years. Feel free to make your own.

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. Rainy Day Adventures: 52 Museums to Visit in New Hampshire
    When the summertime impulse to get out of the house encounters bad weather, don't just hunker...
  2. Determining the Soul (and Future) of the North Country
    Adventure awaits in the North Country, but it lacks that unique vibe to lure travelers from afar....
  3. The Best Gardens to Explore This May
    Let there be flowers! A new season of gardening begins this month, and we've highlighted our...
  4. SALT Kitchen & Bar at Wentworth by the Sea Marriott Hotel & Spa
    Find a creative, seasonal menu at this New Castle eatery.
  5. Getting Inked
    Maybe a little gray on your temples is an invitation to add some color to your skin.
  6. A Presidential Statue Returns Home
    Saint-Gaudens' Standing Lincoln returns to the artist's New Hampshire studio this month.
  7. Forget Man Caves—Build a She Space
    Rooms designed for downtime for the woman of the house are all the rage. Learn how to set one up...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags