By Pam Pacelli Cooper
President, Verissima Productions
“Mother’s German potato salad,” “The Rauh sister’s Spice Cake,” “Successful Icing as of 1975,” and “Oy! Lebkuchen.” As I opened the little tin box of my mother in law’s recipes, I was able to see the history of her family in about 100 3×5 cards. Some were written in her mother’s hand (born 1892), some referenced great aunts who were born in the 1860’s, and some (such as the “Successful icing” card) annotated the struggle—over years—to master the art of a 7 minute frosting.
What’s in the recipe box of your family, or in your family cookbooks? Do you always make the same dishes for the 4th of July? Do you have periodic family reunions where each person brings a favorite dish? Or, is your family reunion, the reunion of a “heart family,” friends who get together once every year or two and recreate foods that they ate when they first met? If you’ve been attending for years, how have the reunions changed over time?
Think about the history of food at your summer family or friendship gatherings. Are you a steamed veggie person for 11 months of the year who brings the coconut cake to the party? Or are you the only one who brings Jell-O made with mayonnaise and fruit, a wiggly reminder of family picnics in the 1950’s and 60’s? Perhaps you are the maverick, introducing a new, nontraditional dish to every reunion.
Jot down a few memories that come to you after reading this blog and see what’s inside your picnic basket.
Here’s a recipe that dates back to the early 1900’s in Natchez, MS