Food has powers. It picks us up from our lonely corners and sits us back down, together. It pulls us out of ourselves, to the kitchen, to the table, to the diner down the block. At the same time, it draws us inward. Food is the keeper of our memories, connecting us with our pasts and with our people.

Jessica Fechtor

We believed in our grandmother’s cooking more fervently than we believed in God. Her culinary prowess was one of our family’s primal stories, like the cunning of the grandfather I never met, or the single fight of my parents’ marriage.

Jonathan Safran Foer

I don’t know what rituals my kids will carry into adulthood, whether they’ll grow up attached to homemade pizza on Friday nights, or the scent of peppers roasting over a fire, or what. I do know that flavors work their own ways under the skin, into the heart of longing.

Barbara Kingsolver

The cloudy purple liquor was carried upstairs to the table in its decanter, poured into juice glasses, toasted with, and drunk heartily. Was it the best wine in the world? No. Was it the worst? Very close. Did it matter? No. It was part of my grandfather, whom we adored, and that made it the sweetest liquid ever to pass our lips.

Stanley Tucci

My entire cooking life has been about memory. It’s my most indispensable ingredient, so wherever I find it, I hoard it. I tell stories about people using food, I swap memories with people and create out of that conversation mnemonic feasts. . . . I cook as the enslaved once cooked, testifying to people and places that only come alive again when they are remembered. In memory there is resurrection, and thus the end goal of my cooking is just that—resurrection.

Michael W. Twitty

Food binds us to our roots as strongly as any song or poem. Many of us have learned more about our ancestors in the kitchen than we ever will from a book.

Anna Thomas

In foreign countries I am drawn into grocery shops, supermarkets, and kitchen-supply houses. I explain this by reminding my friends that, as I was taught in my Introduction to Anthropology, it is not just the Great Works of mankind that make a culture. It is the daily things, like what people eat and how they serve it.

Laurie Colwin

I had my first oyster. Now, this was a truly significant event. I remember it like I remember losing my virginity—and in many ways, more fondly.

Anthony Bourdain

In almost every dish, you can find, besides the culinary ingredients, the ingredients of a story: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Michael Pollan

We all carry a dream about Mama’s chicken. If they set to music what we feel and remember of that chicken, Beethoven would be a forgotten article altogether.

Joanne Greenberg, “Children of Joy”

Just as the French kitchens had their hierarchy of sous-chefs and commis, my grandmother’s kitchen also had its own codes. The secrets of the kitchen were revealed to you in stages, on a need-to-know basis, just like the secrets of womanhood. You started wearing bras; you started handling the pressure cooker for lentils. . . . You did not get told the secret ratio of spices for the house-made sambar curry powder until you came of marriageable age.

Padma Lakshmi

Some people have family crests, lions, tigers, unicorns, elephants—a whole menagerie—and if my family had a crest, you know what would be on it? A blintze.

Gertrude Berg

Food is a gift and should be treated reverentially—romanced and ritualized and seasoned with memory.

Chris Bohjalian, Secrets of Eden

It was one of the best meals we ever ate. Perhaps that is because it was the first conscious one, for me at least; but the fact that we remember it with such queer clarity must mean that it had other reasons for being important. I suppose that happens at least once to every human. I hope so.

M.F.K. Fisher

Maybe the strangest thing about food, the most mysterious, is how little it has to do with what we put in our mouths and how much it has to do with what we put in our heads.

Aria Beth Sloss