Congregations Celebrate History of Producing Cookbooks

In the age of Food Network and online recipes, the easy accessibility of recipes at people’s fingertips have caused some to pronounce the age of the cookbook as dead. However, for many congregations with long histories of congregational meals and food ministries, they are not quite ready to yield so quickly.

For years, many Lutheran congregations in the United States have produced church cookbooks that serve as repositories of family recipes, bridging current generations to their foreparents through the meal table the same way Christ shared meals with his disciples.

During an Amazon search, cookbooks with names such as The Lutheran Ladies Cookbook and Lutheran Church Basement Women: Lutefisk, Lefse, Lunch and Jell-O are common.

Historically congregations created cookbooks to celebrate church anniversaries, engage members of their communities, or pass down traditions. 

One such cookbook is Mohawk Valley Cook Book, published in 1889 by the Ladies’ Society of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Canajoharie, N.Y. Arguably one of the famous Lutheran cookbooks, the opening lines of the preface read: “The Mohawk Valley Cook Book has been prepared and carefully revised with special reference to the needs of the young and inexperienced housekeepers. … Much of the information which it contains will be found useful in every home, of which the ‘house-mother’ is herself the head.”

During an update of the congregation’s history, the members were disappointed to learn many of their records about the original authors of the cookbook had been destroyed in 2006 during a flood.However, the congregation persevered and went on to produce another cookbook Crumbs of Comfort. Commenting on the role food continues to play in the life of the congregation, Pastor Elisabeth Aurand said, “In general, food is a part of culture, and for Lutherans, Christ and culture are in tension.”

Source: Living Lutheran