Pickles, Feminism & Women in My Family

My grandmother created them. My mother kept them safe. I discovered them. My daughter wanted them.  And, together we both met my grandmother for the first time as we canned her homemade pickle recipes.

Salt. Vinegar. Alum. Dill. Sugar. Cucumbers. Jars. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months.  Adherence to the quality, simplicity, and process.  

How many times did we pour over the pickle recipes and my grandmother’s handwriting?  These prized possessions of my grandmother are her legacy to my daughter and me.  My grandmother, Margaret Delight, was a creator and collector of recipes.  They were the social currency between the women in her family.  My grandmother and her generation’s genius schooled us and our Food Network informed understanding of the culinary arts.  And, my grandmother’s legacy reminded me, once again, why gender matters.

Gender matters because our performances of gender norms become extensions of our most intimate selves.  My grandmother’s recipes for Bread and Butter Slices, Thin Slice Pickles, 6 Day Pickles, 13 Day Pickles, 14 Day Pickles, Sweet Relish, and so many more were coveted.  She mastered the craft.  She canned pickles with love and hard work.  These recipes seem simple, but they require time and intention.  They also require some finesse.  

I knew that I discovered a family treasure when I unearthed that book filled with handwritten recipes from the boxes of my mother’s belongings.  However, I did not anticipate that my daughter would love them and that, together, we would meet the woman we never knew.  My daughter and I traveled through the generations and met one another anew.  I was a granddaughter and a mother.  She was a great-granddaughter and daughter.  Both of us women in the tradition of the kind, funny, and feisty (feminist?) Mauser women. Together we were Margaret Delight’s students.  I am grateful to my grandmother for her knowledge, to my mother for her safekeeping, and to my daughter for her curiosity. 

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