If you are what you eat, then this cookbook is about how I started to become who I am. Let me put my cards on the table: I am not a chef. One thing I am though, and will always be, is the daughter of a humble, sincere, zealous woman, who is also not a chef. Her name is Petra. She’s known to many as “P”, but I’m the one who gets to call her mom.
For as long as she’s been cooking at home, my mom has written down her recipes and adaptations, taking note of when she cooks what, and for whom. She’ll devote an entire page of a notebook to a single meal. She doesn’t write down all the meals she makes, but the ones that are worth remembering a day, a few weeks, a couple of months, or years later. These notes have helped her recall what part of a recipe she changed, rediscover a forgotten combination that will maybe inspire tomorrow’s dinner, avoid mistakes previously made, and to not to serve the same thing twice two holidays in a row or for returning guests.
P’s Cookbook reveals the menus of forty-six dinners my mom made some time between and . The order of the menus is not chronological, but rather based on content. Each menu shares one dish with the next. When I was going through all her notebooks, I looked past the nostalgia and became fixated on the frequency in which some dishes appeared. I noticed how, for example, she had made a tomato tart on , , , , and .
The form of the book was determined by this pattern. In the left book, book A, are the dates and menus of forty-six dinners. Each menu item with a corresponding recipe in book B appears in light yellow with an annotated page number. In the right book, book B, are forty-six recipes, one spotlighted dish per menu. In the right margin of each recipe page is a list of the pages where that dish is mentioned in book A. Therefore, book A can be used to navigate book B, and vice versa.