Preserving family history and traditions through food.
My name is Matthew Hanson. I am a photographer / teacher in Ellicott City, Maryland. The idea behind Culinary Perspectives came from a graduate school project. The project started out with the idea of getting people from different backgrounds to talk about a common subject. I chose to work with the idea of food because of how everyone can relate to it. I love to cook and I am fascinated with learning how other people connect with food and recipes.
Food is a universal idea. Everyone needs to eat to survive. Every culture, family, person has a different view on the subject. From how something is prepared to simply how something tastes, food is an ever changing necessity to our everyday lives. I’m intrigued with how people learn to cook and how recipes are passed down from generation to generation. My generation, and all subsequent ones after, have access to a plethora of information through the internet. If I want to learn how to make Chicken Parmesan, I just go online and search “Chicken Parmesan." Over a million results are available to me. Unlike me, prior generations learned how to cook by watching their parents. Mothers were keepers of the home. Homemade meals were the norm, not the exception. When people cook together, conversations happen. Stories get passed along, bonds are made. Food has a history that goes with it. There are stories to be told, memories that are made. My goal is to preserve these stories within the recipes themselves.
The process is very simple. First someone volunteers to collaborate with me on a cookbook. As the person cooks, we simply have a conversation while I capture the process on video and in photographs. The conversation usually start with the question of “why is this recipe important to you?” After the meal has been completed, I dissect the video, remake the recipe, take product shots, and design a book based on the information that I have gathered.
This project does not work without people who generously volunteer to cook for me. If this is something you are interested in doing, please email me at CulinaryPerspectives@gmail.com.
Each year, we combine our individual recipe books into a bigger, more traditional cookbook.
Each book is 8 1/2 x 11. Click on a book to learn more!