The Bond of Food
By: EmilieRae Smith, LCHS Intern
“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” - Alan D. Wolfelt
Food has been a staple of society for generations. Especially in our American culture. In post-World War II America, food became the focal point of families. After the war, the economy in America was prosperous. The prosperity was symbolized by a happy, healthy family sitting around a table full of food. The American family gathered around a table full of food after long days of work and school to bond. We still hold the same value of a meal in today's society, whether it be Sunday night dinner with the whole family, holidays or even catching up with old friends at your favorite restaurant. We greet new neighbors and friends with a dish in hand and we show our love and gratitude with baked goods.
In the early 1960's, the Women's Club of Viola, Idaho compiled a recipe book of their favorite entrees, salads, soups, and desserts and made it available to their community and the rest of the county. Whoever this specific recipe book belonged to, they added their own newspaper clippings of other recipes to the collection, making it unique and special.
The Women's Club of Viola, Idaho was established in 1923. These women not only created recipe books, but also made quilting instruction books and continues to make strides to improve their community. As recently as this month, the Women's Club made efforts to rebuild the old Community Center that was built in the early 1940s. The Women's Club has been making efforts to improve and comfort their community for generations.
The perfectly refined recipes sparked my interest, and I began to wonder through how many generations they had been passed down. I have always loved to cook, perhaps the reason I was drawn to the book in the first place. There is something special about homemade meals and something even more special when you know they were created locally. Each of the recipes included in the book is accompanied by the name of the woman who submitted it.
To satisfy my sweet tooth as well as my curiosity, I picked an Apple Cinnamon Puff recipe from the book to test my traditional culinary skills. I will be the first to admit that I am used to following along with step-by-step pictures from the Internet, which the Apple Cinnamon Puffs created by Mrs. Vernon Hillestad did not have. Not surprisingly though, the puffs turned out great – not due to my baking capabilities, but instead due to the many years of culinary history that lay in the pages of this cookbook.
So, to Mrs. Hillestad and to the rest of the women of the Viola Women's Club, thank you. Thank you for caring so greatly about American tradition that you keep the bonding power of food alive in Latah County for not only my generation, but for the many generations to follow.
If you would like to check out other recipes from this resource, please go to the Latah County Historical Society and ask to see the PAM 88-21 collection.