Home cooking is a catalyst that brings people together. We are losing the daily ritual of sitting down around the table (without the intrusion of television), of having the opportunity to interact, to share our experiences and concerns, to listen to others. Home kitchens, despite the increase in designer appliances and cabinetry, are mostly quiet and empty today. Strangers are preparing much of our food. And our supermarkets, which once considered restaurants and fast-food places the enemy, have joined the trend by enlarging their delis and offering ready-to-eat food they call "home-replacement meals." But bringing ready-cooked meals home is not the same as cooking in your own kitchen, where you are in control of the ingredients you use, where you fill the house with good cooking smells, and where you all share in a single dish, taking a helping and passing the platter on to your neighbor. Nothing can replace that.
-From the introduction to Lost Recipes
Too many families seldom sit down together; it's gobble and go, eating food on the run, reheating it in relays in the microwave as one dashes off to a committee meeting, another to basketball practice. As a result we are losing an important value. Food is more than fodder. It is an act of giving and receiving because the experience at table is a communal sharing; talk begins to flow, feelings are expressed, and a sense of well-being takes over.
- From the preface to The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
Eating food that strangers cook is vastly different than eating what's cooked at home. The real key is sharing food at that table and, believe me, we know we're not born civilized. We're small savages, so you have to be taught the table is the place where you learn who you are and where you're from, understanding that a lot of people just do nothing but fight at the table. Nonetheless, you come to know one another. The result is you know who you are.
-From the 1996 PBS show, "Baking With Julia"
Did you learn to cook with one of Marion Cunningham's cookbooks, or do you cherish a particular recipe?
(Image: Ben Margot/AP via People)