Not Your Average Mother’s Day Playlist

By: Rachael Markow

Mother’s Day is not always a straightforward day of celebration. It is often a day of grief for children who have lost their mothers, for mothers who have lost their children, and for people who have fraught relationships with the person who they call mom. 

The holiday focuses on brunch and giving moms a day off from cooking. But food and motherhood are linked in many profound ways as we explore in this playlist. We discuss the definition of ‘mother,’ examine how grief and food intertwine, recount one mom’s dedication to nourish AIDS patients despite the law, and take a few different looks at the difficulties and joys of being a mother in the food industry. This is not your average Mother’s Day playlist.

Processing Episode 58: Let's talk about Mother's Day: Mother’s Day is a complicated and painful day for many and hosts Zahra Tangorra and Bobbie Comforto address that complexity as mother and daughter in this episode. The day can be extremely triggering and difficult while also celebratory and joyous. In some cases, it is all of that at once.

Meat and Three Episode 73: Mother's Day: We’re exploring the power of family recipes and the ways mothers inspire creativity in the kitchen all year round. Kevin Chang Barnum speaks with the founder of Eat, Darling, Eat, a website chronicling mother-daughter relationships through the lens of food. Katie Philo interviews cookbook author Andrea Nguyen about the influence of her family history on her culinary career. Kat Johnson shares the secret to her mom’s oatmeal drop cookies. The producers of Modernist Breadcrumbs discuss another kind of mother, the one involved in cultivating yeast.

My Family Recipe Episode 1: Motherhood & Chocolate Cake with Lisa Ruland: A story about how chocolate cake - a festive treat if there ever was one - brought about unlikely healing through grief. Lisa Ruland is a food writer, professional baker, and the curator of The Food + Grief Project. She talks about her relationship to food after the tragic loss of her husband, how she found connection while mourning, and how a chocolate birthday cake catalyzed what is now an honored family tradition.

Queer The Table Episode 16: Good Outlaws: Host Nico Wisler is joined by Alia Volz to talk about her book Half Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco. Alia’s mother ran Sticky Fingers Brownies, a bakery that distributed thousands of marijuana-laced brownies a month, helping many suffering AIDS patients find relief. They discuss how AIDS activists paved the way for marijuana legalization in this country. 

ShiftWork Episode 4: Working Parents in Hospitality: Parents, and mothers specifically, face a particularly steep set of challenges working in the hospitality industry. Long, irregular hours and lack of paid time off are only the start of what can make raising children while working in a restaurant untenable. Host Kiki Louya explores resources for families in the industry in a conversation with Sheila Bennett, the Executive Director of CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees). CORE provides financial relief to restaurant workers with children when they experience crises like illness and injury. Kiki and Sheila discuss embracing opportunity in the industry while juggling family, childcare needs, and other obstacles. 

Speaking Broadly Episode 128: The Empathetic Rebel, Claudette Zepeda: Claudette Zepeda is a Mexican and American star chef who's lived at the border of two countries, two food traditions, two ways of life. Instead of creating a bridge between all of her experiences, Zepeda created a parachute, jumping into new situations, packing up what she learned, and bringing them along on her adventures. She was a mother at 18, which helped her become a great leader and listener in the kitchen. She worked in Italian and French restaurants, and uses those techniques in her cooking today. 

Processing Episode 7: Donna Orbach - "Spaghetti Aglio e Olio:" Hosts Zahra Tangorra and Bobbie Comforto sit down for a deeply moving talk with interior designer, writer, and bereaved mother, Donna Orbach. In 2012, Donna's son Reuben died suddenly while studying abroad at the young age of 20. Donna opens up about her personal and familial relationship to food before and after Reuben's death, her experience with other people's food after his passing, and the complexities and realities of losing a child. 

Eat Your Words Episode 209: Sweet Survival, Tales of Cooking & Coping: Cathy Erway welcomes Laura Zinn Fromm, author of the new book Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking and Coping. Laura is also an accomplished editor and former Business Week Magazine reporter, but now spends a good deal of time on her blog Flawed Mom and as a contributor to The Huffington Post. Talking to Cathy about her background and journey in journalism, especially how she found that writing about food and family reinvigorated her, she shares a few stories from Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking and Coping. Laura goes on to chat about how cooking and food writing have helped her cope with stress and anxiety throughout her life, which is also a theme throughout her book. 

My Family Recipe Episode 9: Missing Mom’s Sunday Sauce with Gary Schiro: Gary Schiro had made plenty of his mother’s recipes, but one Sunday morning, not long after his mother passed away, an attempt to make her traditional meatballs and sauce went wrong. Gary wished he could have called her. He wished that he had asked her how to make the recipe properly. Despite having seen her make it 900 times, he never did. This episode takes a look at time-honored family traditions, examines unanswered questions, and is an attempt to reconcile feelings of regret. Plus, a cook-along with Gary goes to show that you can make any family recipe your own without sacrificing meaning, comfort, or deliciousness.

In The Sauce Episode 80: Building and Mothering: Nicole Centeno is Founder and CEO of Splendid Spoon, the online meal delivery company that offers ready-to-eat, nourishing, plant-based smoothies, soups and grain bowls. Nicole and Ali talk about how Splendid Spoon leaned into direct-to-consumer early on, the complexities of supply chain and how the lessons learned from parenting apply to businesses in ways we could never imagine.

Cooking in Mexican from A to Z Episode 1: Getting to Know Mexican Green Chiles with Aarón and Zarela: In this very first episode of Cooking in Mexican from A to Z, mother-son duo Aarón Sánchez and Zarela Martínez discuss one of their favorite ingredients: chiles verdes, or green chiles. The traditional Mexican techniques of roasting, drying, and cooking are told through stories of their early days on the ranch in Mexico through their careers as chefs in NYC. They talk about their identity as a family; their personal and professional relationship, which includes being the first mother-son team to cook at the White House; and developing their own culinary styles.

Cutting the Curd Episode 380: Cheese Work As a Parent - Jessica Kesselman: Jessica Kesselman joins Elena in-studio to discuss working in cheese alongside her journey as a parent. How well does the cheese industry support parents, and what are the challenges specific to parents that come up when working in cheese? Elena and Jessica explore the answers to these questions and more.

Meat and Three Episode 96: In Flux: Changes in our Social Fabric: 2020 was one huge change after another that forced us all to take a deeper look at how we used to live and wonder what the future might hold. In a segment of Meat and Three, Dylan Heuer talks with Katherine Goldstein and looks at the exodus of women from the workforce to perform caretaking duties at home due to Covid-19. Without established social supports to help parents during this crisis, the pandemic deeply affected the way mothers balanced work and life.

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