"Mom" is a Mainstay in Missouri

May 15, 2018

For centuries, moms have served as inspiration for art, movies, music and more. They also have inspired some memorable places in Missouri. From ravioli to Route 66, you don't have to look far to find "mom" in the Show-Me State.

Moms and great food go hand in hand, so it's no surprise to see their influence in culinary offerings across the state.

The mom behind Momma Mary's in Springfield frequently fed her growing family frybread tacos based on a recipe she received from a Navajo friend. Mary's children now serve the traditional Navajo-style tacos, along with burritos, enchiladas, nachos and more, at the popular food truck named in her honor.

At Mama Toscano's in St. Louis, handmade ravioli is still made the way "Nana Kate" did decades ago. The three-day process involves butchering and grinding the meat, mixing it with spices and other ingredients, and making the homemade dough. The wholesale and retail shop offers two types of the meat-filled pasta – one for boiling and the other for frying (St. Louis style). The shop also serves toasted ravioli and a variety of sandwiches to enjoy at one of its outdoor tables or carry out.

As its name implies, Not Just Desserts by Mom in St. Joseph serves breakfast and lunch items in addition to cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls and cookies. Originally called Just Desserts by Mom, the one-time bakery has now become known for its home-style meals and "world-famous" tenderloins. The owners take great pride in making everything from scratch, just like their moms and grandmas did.

Enjoy fine dining and patio views of the Missouri River at the Mother-in-Law House located on Main Street in historic downtown St. Charles. The restaurant resides in a "double house" built by a wealthy mill owner in 1866. The structure was originally divided in half – one side for the owner and his new wife and the other side for her mother.

At any one time, 3-6 "mommas and grand mommas" are busy baking homemade pies at Sugar Momma's in Hermann. The shop owner learned her pie-making skills from her own mom, known as the "pie queen" in the nearby town of Rhineland, where she baked pies for a local restaurant. Housed in a historic building that was once home to the Ewald Bakery, Sugar Momma's makes more than 50 kinds of pie and offers old-fashioned candy, ice cream and gift items.

In addition to favorite dining spots, you can also find "mom" in some of Missouri's most historic spaces.

As the first permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi River, Ste. Genevieve is known as the Mother of the West. The town's National Historic Landmark District is home to dozens of 18th and early 19th century buildings, many reflecting Missouri's French colonial history. Guided tours of the Felix Valle House, the Amourex House, the Bolduc House and others provide a glimpse into the community's colorful past.

Moms are a major focus at Hallmark, headquartered in Kansas City. The company has been making cards for Mother's Day – the country's third largest card-sending holiday – since the early 1920s. Tour the Hallmark Visitors Center to learn about the teenager who turned two shoeboxes of postcards into a billion-dollar brand.

Route 66 – famously called the Mother Road by author John Steinbeck – heralded the age of cross-country travel. As one of the original U.S. highways (and the first to be completely paved), the road ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. But it was in Springfield, Mo., in 1926 that the highway was officially named. Running through eight states and dozens of small towns, the Mother Road spurred the growth of many mom- (and pop-) owned businesses including service stations, restaurants and motels.

Written by Liz Coleman

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