Stories of Food, Food as Story

I Love You So Much, I'm Going to Give You Dessert

Group Zine Contribution

My grandma and I wrote letters to each other when I moved to Olympia in the late '90s to go to Evergreen. When I was reading through her letters this winter, I came across a small envelope with ½ a teaspoon of ground cardamom written in blue cursive on the outside. The brown powdery spice was still inside, wrapped in a square of tin foil.

Cardamon is the crucial ingredient in Vetebröd–the Swedish bread my granma learned to make from her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother, Signa. It's is a tasty bread in a sort of an understated way. Sticky on top with a light glaze of sugar. It isn’t especially flaky or buttery. It’s a  braided bread. Sturdy in stature–like the loving depictions of my mom and her siblings in my granpa's hand drawn cards that I found nestled in with my granma's letters. I’m not sure that food was my granma’s love language in the same way it was for Signa, but she was a quietly fierce tradition bearer. I think it was the bread's solitude that stands out to me the most. It was the only food from our Swedish heritage that persisted. It appeared again and again and again at all our gatherings - because of my granma.  It was beloved. And I know that she loved us dearly through the simple act of making a slightly sweet braided bread, again and again and again.

-Elaine Vradenburgh, Winter Cohort 2023 Facilitator