So anyway, about this family recipe collection of mine. It started out as a family history project to document the food and stories of the immigrants in my family. A sort of family album of American cooking and life. I did a little bit of genealogy, collected old photographs, and started raiding my relatives’ recipe boxes, trying to recreate old dishes. Some go as far back as the 1800s.
I also sat down and tried to get people talking about things like World War II, the Depression, the family dynamics of the time. Things that had a huge impact on how we ate and lived. I also excerpted old memoirs from the family and had some people write down their stories. What I ended up with is a fascinating glimpse into food and family life before today. And I think it’s not just interesting because these people are my family, but because they’re characters, and a lot of how they lived is applicable to other immigrant families.
So, I started with the Italian side. Luckily, my grandmother (Nonni) is still around to help me document these recipes (most of which aren’t written down), so we can have conversations like this:
Her: You put potatoes in this? Why did you put potatoes in here?
Me: I thought that’s what you did.
Her: I don’t put potatoes in this.
Me: You don’t? But you told me you did. See, I wrote it down. Two potatoes.
Her: No, not in this. I would never say that.
Later, although the grandparents on the other side of my family are gone, I began doing the same thing for my relatives with roots in Appalachia, as well as my Acadian relatives who emigrated from Nova Scotia and settled around Boston. Lots of people contributed, so I have a good collection of old recipes from both the North and South of the Mason-Dixon line. And as our family grew, new immigrants joined the ranks, from South Africa to Armenia.
For the purposes of this blog, I won’t bore you with the details nobody cares about but me. I will, however, bore you with the recipes because, well, why stop now.
Since this is a blog and there are no rules, I’m going to do this my way. I’m starting with the Italians. Why? Because they rule. I declare Fridays to be Cookbook Fridays, wherein I will post one page from this virtual family cookbook. That way the octogenarians in my family have the whole weekend to get their high-speed modems in order, check out all the porn that’s accumulated in their inbox during the week, and finally meander their way over to my web site.
Oh look, tomorrow’s Friday. Guess I’ll have to get my rear in gear. However, you should know that if my relatives are going to be visiting this site, there are going to have to be some changes around here. For one thing, there’s going to have to be a LOT more swearing.