I found this gem at my mom’s house. It’s a 1973 issue of a magazine called 秋のおかず • 基本と秘訣 (Fall Side Dishes • Basics and Tips). 1973 is the year after my mom and dad married, here in California. Without the presence of their parents at the wedding, they flew back to Japan to formally introduce each other to their families. My mom bought this magazine during that trip, when they were young and in love. She was only 26. Although much has happened since, I’m amazed she’s kept this magazine for nearly 40 years and still cooks from it to this day.
Looking inside, I noticed the top-down flow of text reads much like a blog! All the photographs are taken from the perspective of the home cook, often with the inclusion of her hands. What a clever aesthetic choice to help the reader visualize making each dish.
There are the recipes you’d expect to find, like takikomi gohan, tempura, donburi, and sushi. But to my surprise, there were also dishes from around the world, like pilaf, kebab, gratin, an array of Chinese dishes, and even a jelly mold!
Finding this made me think about the longevity of family recipes and the link between memory, food, and culture. This has been a long-held interest of mine and I’ve been trying to get my hands on my grandmother’s recipes, hoping to recreate some of the dishes she made when I was growing up. I haven’t had much success, but I’m grateful I have access to my mom’s cooking and all the guidance and instruction that influenced her.
Despite the great content, what I love most is tactile: the feel of the weathered cover, the crinkle of the warped pages, its lack of back cover, the burn marks on the spine, and the faint ring on the back page, suggesting the issue was placed on an electric burner that was still warm.