Nana’s Poundcake, Food, and Cultural Connection

Cultural Connection–Through Food

Cultural Connection happens through food.

Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots. That is how we consider food. Food has a culture. It has a history. It has a story. It has relationships. –– Winona Laduke

Food is about more than sustenance. It is about pleasure and joy and cultural connection. Food is one of the ways we connect with our cultural traditions and our ancestors. This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about my work to help people with eating disorders. When someone has an eating disorder and they are fearful of eating or of eating certain foods, they miss out on the pleasures of food and they miss out on the opportunities to connect with others through food. They also miss out on their own cultural connection with their relatives and their cultural heritage.Nana's Poundcake, Food and Cultural Connection [Image description: photo of Nana's poundcake on a white plate] Eating Disorder Therapy LA

In my own family, my 103-year-old Nana has always been known for her piano playing and her delicious poundcake. While her prized Steinway piano now stands in my home, I did not inherit her piano-playing her abilities. I did, however, learn her poundcake recipe.

From the time I was a young girl, I have memories of “Nana’s poundcake.” Simple to make with only 5 ingredients, buttery and yummy. During visits to Kansas City, I looked forward to making it with her. And when she visited us in New York we would make it together. And, occasionally my mom and I would make it without Nana. My kids have had the experience of making poundcake with my Nana, their great grandmother. And they have made it with me. After she eventually passes, we will retain this cultural connection to my Nana and my kids will hopefully continue to make and share her recipe with future generations.

Making poundcake with Nana [Image description: photo of a teen girl operating a mixer and an old woman watching] represents eating disorder recovery in Los Angeles, California Connection through food and poundcake [Image description: photo of an old woman holding a poundcake and surrounded by two young girls] Represents eating disorder therapy in California Cultural connection through food and eating disorder recovery in Los Angeles, California [Image description: photo of an old woman watching a young girl operate a mixer making poundcake]




Photos of my daughters making poundcake with Nana back in 2012 at her apartment (she was 96)

I am glad to have this cultural connection to Nana and to be able to fully enjoy making and eating poundcake with all its rich butter and sugar. What joy and connection I would be missing out on if I were afraid of eating it. To be able to make it and eat it with enjoyment enriches my life and allows me to have a shared experience through four generations of my family. I will always have joyful memories of baking and eating poundcake with the different generations in my family.

Bonus Feature — Nana’s Poundcake Recipe

  • 1/2 pound salted butter (2 sticks) – softened
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 T vanilla
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add eggs one at a time while beating constantly
  • Add flour and flavoring
  • Pour into well-greased loaf pan (or bundt pan)
  • Bake at 350° for 90 minutes

Cultural connection through food and eating disorder recovery in Los Angeles, California [Image description: photo of the author, Lauren Muhlheim, and her daughter with a freshly baked poundcake]

Poundcake and eating disorder recovery returning connection through food in Los Angeles, California [Image description: photo of a slice of poundcake] Represents joy of eating in recovery in California






Photos from a poundcake I made with my daughter in 2019.




Regain Your Cultural Connection to Food Through Eating Disorder Therapy in California

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