traces of memory

 |  January 21, 2008

detail of a visual journal entry

Above is a detail of a recent visual journal entry. The background that I glued into my journal was a blueprint of a building that I found at an estate sale.

Today I went to my third class at the Culinary Communion. Last week we learned how to take apart a chicken and this week we took our saved carcasses to make chicken stock. I have been learning a lot in these classes-not how to be a gourmet chef or anything fancy like that, but how to understand food and preparation. Actually in our knife skills class I realized that I am very much the same person in the kitchen that I am in the studio. I’ve never been a neat person when it comes to sketches or laying paint down on my canvas. My pencil lines have never been neat and always finding ways to make charcoal smudges seem intentional. I seem to have the same approach with cutting up the vegetables. Yes, I understand that it all needs to be uniformly sized in order to cook evenly. And I follow that rule, but perfect little cubes and matchsticks?? Not my style. But it’s good to know and be able to do.

The thing that is most interesting to me are the food memories flooding back to me from my childhood. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Not being taught, unfortunately. But still I must have aborbed something. Today while learning to skim the fat off the stock, I had memories of the same gesture. The pull of the spoon. The repetition. One hand on the spoon, skimming, the other hand resting on the hip. The big pot atop the stove. The same earthy smell.

I’ve also been learning that being a first generation american gave me a different experience of food than my friends I went to school with. First of all, I was a kid in the 80s where it seemed everything was about convenience food. And second,we cooked with everything in our house. I mean, everything. I remember being embarrassed to have my friends come over for dinner because there would be a cow’s tongue sticking out of a pot or fish heads in the sink. I’ve forgotten these things.

But the memories are coming back. Strange how memories work~our experiences sit somewhere in our brains, forgotten, waiting to be awakened by a smell, a gesture,a reminder.

Random food thoughts in my art journal. I’m writing these things down though as I plan to do a series exploring my relationship to food. Some day. When I get more studio time. Speaking of time, I just updated my web site with some recent work. That took forever. But at least I can scratch off two things off my humongous to-do list. So much to do…


  1. by Jen on January 21, 2008  11:09 am Reply

    So very interesting Bridgette - we never know when the past will come raging back to sideswipe us. I'm currently reading a book by Ruth Reichl (food editor for the NY Times) about her childhood and relationships with food. She had similar feelings (albeit different experiences) regarding food and "home". I have always looked nostalgically at first-generation (in my case) Canadian families. Their food seemed so exotic and "real" than mine. The view remains greener across the fence I guess. :)

  2. by bridgette on January 21, 2008  11:48 am Reply

    Hi Jen-I've read Reichl's books too. My favorite is Comfort Me with Apples. Have you read "The Birth House" by Ami McKay? I think it won a Canadian literature award...anyway I just finished it and loved it.

  3. by Paula Scott on February 2, 2008  6:24 pm Reply

    I have a black bird in the tree image that is almost identical to this! Same colors, feel, background color. I'll post it one of these days and you will see.
    You Culinary class sounds like a lot of fun!

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