The Art of Food is a delicious class taught by the Poet (Loretta Marvel) and The Painter (Kathleen Nesi) are inviting you to break artistic bread with them and partake of the nourishment of art and family and friend and food and writing and story. We must eat to live; we must have love to thrive. The two are every intertwined. Whether it’s a peanut butter and fluff sandwich eaten on a dock by a lake or macarons eaten atop The Eiffel Tower, we all have deep, sacramental memories of food and friendship that nourish us from within like yeast rising inside a dough.
Loretta: Food and all the accompanying family traditions are the bread of life of our family's heritage. When my husband and children and I moved to Fresno and then to Memphis within two years, my little family begin to founder on the rocks of distance and loneliness, especially during holidays. Without family, it didn't matter whether I could find Polly-O ricotta to fill the cannoli or an Italian deli where I could find sopressata because none of it tased the same a tableful full of relatives that made the holiday a loving, crazy time.
Then, a few weeks after we moved to Memphis, someone slipped through our letter slot a handwritten invitation to join the neighborhood Garden Club. I'd never been a lady who lunched, but once I accepted their invitation, I found myself folded into the embrace of women of all ages, who invited us to their homes, dropped off casseroles when someone was ill, included me in their monthly birthday club, and made my family part of their extended families. My fondest memories are the beautiful monthly brunches where we listened to speakers talk about all manner of garden-related themes, and then ate a repast of shrimp and grits, cheddar biscuits, chicken and wild rice casseroles, tomato aspics, and 7-layer cakes.
My mixed media book is a homage not only to the Southern cooking that my family came to love, but to the capacious generosity of the women who created relationships and memories for us that we will never forget. One of my precious belongings is their going away gift of a beautiful set of their secret Southern recipes. I still treasure my “Memphis family” and I hope you will begin to think about creating your own “sacramental” memories of food, family, and friends.
Kathy: Why a mixed media recipe book you ask? Why not just scan and printout the old recipe cards and put into a 3 ring binder? Well, the answer to that is easy! There is more to a recipe than its ingredients. There is story behind each and every one. I wanted to make a book that my children could cherish. It would explain why their mother had an almost embarrassing addiction to peanut butter and fluff on toast. It would be a vault of sorts of the secret family recipes that weren’t shared with friends for one reason or another. Every recipe in my book has meaning to me and I wanted to be sure to pass them on. I feel it is my duty as the oldest sibling in my branch of the family. One of my brothers even asked me recently for the recipe for Toffee Butter Crunch. I had to explain to him that he chose a recipe that is challenging and not for the weak of heart. Luckily, I had that page ready to go. Scanned it, and emailed it to him. Now he has a copy of the recipe, my artistic interpretation of the candy and the story behind it on a lovely, colorful page. My nieces will have it too, and so it goes. The legacy of the Toffee Butter Crunch lives on and I’ll be waiting for another call from him or one of my other family members for the Irish Soda Bread recipe (There are many variations from the women in my family).