The Grand Generation
Presenting Your Findings

Compiling a Family Recipe Book
Mamoo's Soggy Coconut Cake

A recipe is a thing of magic, at once mechanical and brief. And still it may be all that is left in this world of Aunt Grace, say, and her recipe for chicken dumplin's. . . . We hope that fora moment Mamoo's coconut cake will bring us together . Knoxville... and west Tennessee... and Kentucky... and the Ranch... and let us see what we have had... and been.
Guy Miles, Mamoo's Soggy Coconut Cake

Mrs. T.A. Lewis of Knoxville, Tennessee, affectionately known as "Mamoo," is celebrated among family and friends for her inimitable soggy coconut cake. "Christmas is not Christmas without Mamoo's coconut cake," says her granddaughter Faye, "that's the way it's been for years and years, as long as I can remember." When Mamoo was 95, her family decided to document her as she made the cake. With a tape recorder, a camera, and plenty of questions, they followed her through the entire process from the selection of a suitable coconut to the presentation of the finished product: Far more than a recipe was recorded. Her family also captured on tape and on film the cherished recollections, stories, values, attitudes, and gestures associated with making the cake. Afterwards, they transcribed the tapes, edited the materials, and printed a 43-page booklet-- illustrated with photographs of Mamoo preparing her specialty-- which they distributed to relatives, friends, and neighbors (see "For Further Reading").