Topic of the Week: December 14-18, 2009
December is the month of holidays. As family and friends gather to celebrate religious and/or cultural traditions, food is always featured. Ask people about their favorite holiday memories and you’ll find responses tied around food and family: “My grandmother’s butterscotch pie,” “my mother’s baked ham,” or “my aunt’s golden latkes.” Food nourishes both the body and the spirit.
Joining us on December 18th is Suzan Colón, author of Cherries in Winter, a memoir reflecting on food, family and getting through tough times with dignity. When Suzan was laid off from a cushy and lucrative job at the beginning of the recession, luxuries she’d taken for granted, like shopping at pricey gourmet markets, getting expensive haircuts, and even owning a car, were all suddenly out of her budget. She and her husband Nathan quickly realized they had to cut way, way back.
When winter came, Suzan cobbled together freelance jobs while wearing layers of sweaters and trying to type in fingerless gloves, the better to keep the heating bill low. She also saved money by cooking at home, and her mother, Carolyn, suggested, “Why don’t you dig out Nana’s recipe folder?” In a basement trunk, Suzan found the tattered treasure holding the old recipes, some written in her Nana’s nearly perfect script, others meticulously type-written, that went back through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and beyond. Reading them, Suzan realized she had found something more than a collection of recipes; she’d discovered the key to her family’s survival through hard times.
Suzan Colón is an independent writer and editor who has written celebrity profiles, personal essays, and general interest articles for O, the Oprah Magazine; Marie Claire; Jane; Details; Harper’s Bazaar; Seventeen; YM; Mademoiselle; Rolling Stone; and others. She is the author of three young adult novels based on the TV series Smallville, as well as Catwoman: The Life and Times of a Feline Fatale; and What Would Wonder Woman Do? Suzan lives in New Jersey with her husband and two cats.
Follow Suzan on Twitter at: @colonsuzan.