Familial food traditions are wonderful. Here’s First Gen American’s Babci’s sauerkraut tradition.
My familial food traditions are pretty much 1950s Betty Crocker on one side and 1970s French cooking on the other (my dad took a lot of cooking classes when he was a single young man in a city famous for the quality of its chefs).
DH, on the other hand, has one of those wonderful grandmothers who makes things from scratch like nobody else makes. They may have started in a cookbook or magazine but over the decades they have morphed into something unreproducible.
Of course, the family has tried very hard to reproduce these wonderful foods, the rolls, the jam, the noodles, and so on.
First they asked her to write the recipes down. Of course the recipe didn’t end up tasting like hers. Then an aunt decided to video tape her and measure every handful before DH’s grandmother threw them in. This worked better.
A lot of conversation went like this, “What’s that brown powder you just tossed in without measuring?” “Oh this? Just a little nutmeg.” “Nutmeg? There’s no nutmeg in the recipe you wrote down.” “Oh, it’s such a small amount it isn’t worth bothering with.” And the aunt would add, “a pinch of nutmeg” to the recipe. DH’s aunt has gotten pretty close on the cinnamon rolls (my favorite which I always request whenever we visit– Grandma DH sends a bag home with me and I am in glycemic coma heaven until they’re gone.)
Throughout our decade or so of marriage, DH has taken it upon himself to try to replicate the dinner rolls. He’s used the original recipe, and more recently his aunt’s update. He’s scoured Cook’s Illustrated and a food science textbook (On Food and Cooking) and the internet for hints on why they weren’t rising as high or were too big or too small or too buttery or not the right shade of brown.
The best thing about this process is that I have appreciated every single yummy mistake. In fact, some of DH’s experiments have ended up yummier than the original to my inexperienced tastebuds, but not to DH’s more experienced ones.
DH wants the rolls to be just the same as his grandmother’s because they taste like love.
And maybe it’s not healthy for food to be equivalent to love, but I’m going to stuff myself silly today and if that’s not love, well, we can’t tell the difference enough to care. Not today anyway.
What are your family food traditions?