Do you have a family food tradition that you associate with your father, grandfather, or other male relative? Are you a dad that has stories about cooking with your kids? We are collecting stories, memories, recipes, and photos featuring men in your family food tradition. Send us a message or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions will be uploaded every Saturday. We look forward to reading your story!
A memory – and happily an ongoing ‘reality’ is my Dad as captain of the Christmas trifle. This may not be a particularly familiar dessert to some. The Italians call it (translated) English Soup, which is remarkable, as it’s not like any soup I’ve had here, or in Italy. But I digress. Trifle is a chilled dessert, comprising layers of different textures and materials. Typically sponge (or sponge fingers), then jelly (jello), fruit, custard, cream and some audacious topping. It is simply delicious. Dad continues to make this, usually on special request. His personal preference is for no jelly (boo!) but that’s OK because as a kid what I found to be intriguing was that my tee-total father, never touching a drop of the stuff, would liberally pour fruit liqueur or sherry (or use Rumtopf-soaked fruits) in to the trifle, leaving us joddering around after dinner.
The other item I associate with my father is salt cod. The decline of him eating this seems to be in tandem to the decline of the East Coast fishing trade – he used to get it sent ‘fresh’ from Grimsby. He would boil it for hours and then enjoy with a little butter. He loves the stuff. I was never keen, but then whilst living in Japan I befriended a Portuguese woman and fell in love with bacalhau, which she wrapped in newspaper and flew to Fukuoka in her suitcase. Japan must have lax customs! I should take my Dad out for Portuguese food, with English Soup for pudding.
He was a zero in the Dad department….but he could bar-b-que a mean pork barbecue shoulder…
My parents were from the South. My parents loved fresh southern vittles which included pork barbecue. Back in the sixties they were transferred up North to Kentucky from Tennessee. Ingrained Southerners the move was traumatic but they managed.I was only about eight, but the first thing my father did was to build the brick barbecue pit. Oh, it was a massive affair, and he laboured on it intensively and my mother planted flowers around it. It was the altar of our backyard.
He didn’t barbecue often but I remember it as an all day affair. The special hickory smoked wood that was bought, the HUGE pork shoulder that was humongous, the coals that had to be just right. The homemade barbecue sauce carefully painted on, the multiple turnings of the beast. The neighborhood smelled delicious, and the neighbors all came round to see what the great smell was. Me, it took me many more years before I appreciated the taste. And today when I’m in the South I know a trip down memory lane is at the next little barbecue pit stop on the road.
I’m a Mother, not a Dad, but here’s a story about my Father in the kitchen.
My Dutch Father emigrated to New Zealand from a culture where Father’s didn’t do anything in the kitchen and met and married my Kiwi Mother who was a keen cook. He wasn’t the type to be interested in the cooking of every day meals but on very rare occasions he liked to bake. One day he got a bee in his bonnet about bran muffins. The first batch were brilliant and disappeared at lightning speed. A week later he made more, also good.
Then he decided to make a double batch, which might have been good had he not doubled just the dry ingredients. He muttered a lot in Dutch under his breath in the kitchen, a signal to my sister and I to leave the house and go play outside. Later he called us inside and offered us a muffin… ugh, they were hard, tasteless little rocks, well not quite tasteless, there was the bitterness of dry baked baking powder and baking soda to be detected. And hard? … danger of breaking our teeth kind of hard.
We tried very hard to be polite with the first bite but it didn’t really work because they were truly inedible. Father didn’t look very happy. We were excused and exited to the garden promptly. After a while we heard the back door slam and watched from a distance as he angrily dumped bran muffins on the back lawn for the birds. Days later we watched, as the muffins completely and utterly rejected by the birds were angrily picked up from the lawn and unceremoniously thrown onto the compost heap situated behind the garage at the bottom of the garden.
Our cat was in the habit of frequenting the compost heap and eating the most unlikely things. There was a workshop and a small home winery in the back of the garage and a window that overlooked the back garden and the compost heap. Both my parents had seen the cat on many occasion eating veggie trimmings and the like, so when my parents were putting groceries in the garage freezer and noticed the cat investigating the bran muffins they stopped what they were doing to spy on the cat. According to my Mother: the cat sniffed one of the bran muffins, tried to eat one, immediately rejected it, looked very annoyed at the taste, gave the muffins a withering look and stalked off disdainfully.
The final insult had arrived: even our rubbish-bin of a cat had rejected his muffins, so my Father’s mood was not good. My Mother did her best not to laugh which didn’t make him any happier. These were my Father’s first and last attempts at bran muffins and it was at least a decade before he baked anything at all again. The family can all laugh about this now but “bran muffins” remain a bit of sore point for him even after all these years.
When “kitchen sink” is included in the name of a recipe, it brings to mind cookies or omelets filled with everything but the kitchen sink. Well, I can’t say that’s the case with my grandfather’s (and now, my father’s) Thanksgiving turkey stuffing. It’s actually made in the kitchen sink. As an adult, and a bit of a germaphobe at that, this should really gross me out, but I can’t help but think of all the happy memories of my Poppa-T and eventually my dad standing over the kitchen sink and cracking a dozen eggs into it like its just any other mixing bowl. You know, just like every other family who uses their food disposal/wash basin as a mixing bowl. Totally normal, nothing to see here folks.
I don’t know how it started, but I can speculate. And trust me, I have. In a way (a really hygienically flexible way), it makes sense. At the holidays, (more…)
My grandpa was the most amazing old guy in the whole world. Well, that’s inaccurate because he wasn’t old at all… for me he was the definition of a young heart: always happy, always active and creative, always learning and loving. We shared the love for food: pistachios were our favourite snack but I quit when I got ill after eating one pistachios too many. I loved chocolate raisins and chilli candies… obviously my mom didn’t allow me to eat a lot, but my grandpa spoiled me every time I visited to his house.
I was happy there, I felt free even when we both had to hide from the inquisitive sight of my grandma. We laughed.
Since I can remember we had a ritual. When he visited me (more…)
As I was reading a story of my grandfather’s breakfast time cooking and, later, my brothers accomplished leap into the role, I was reminded of a tradition that my wife and I have concerning the cooking of pancakes.
I love pancakes. There is something about getting up in the morning and downing a whole heap of delicious griddle cakes doused liberally with butter and maple syrup….syrup from Aunt Jemima or from the small stills up state, doesn’t matter. There is no way better, short of chocolate cake, to start a day requiring vim, vigor and energy.
After getting married, my tastes, though, were in need of refinement, so my wife helped me to learn the joy of thin pancakes, or as some would call them: crepes. And what a delicacy these were. This was one of the first things (more…)
This is a bit I wrote for a creative writing class eleven years ago. It’s full of the present tense of an undergrad who hasn’t quite reconciled himself to the fact that his parents’ house is no longer /his/ house. (It’s also the product of a time in my life when I didn’t have steady access to my own kitchen or groceries beyond what would fit in a dorm fridge…)
It unfortunately has to be in the past tense at this point, as my dad has been dead for four years. There’s a surprising amount of truth in this old piece, though—things that have become clear only with my own wife and kids. While I can’t just chuck garlic and hot peppers at my cooking any more, the way I’ve grown into cooking has everything to do with the way my dad cooked and used cooking to interact with the family when I was growing up.
I’ve given up any illusions of becoming a great cook. Good, maybe, but not great. I got a lot of things from Dad—the short, thick fingered hands, the ability to ignore splash burns and small cuts, knowing when something is cooked through by touch—what I didn’t get was his nose. Stuck deep in a wine glass or hovering over a spice jar, Dad’s nose is big. Big enough that only about half the family’s motley collection of glasses work for him. It isn’t a standout nose. It doesn’t hook. There’s no Dick Tracy hawkishness about it. It isn’t bulbous; it isn’t upturned, pug, or snub. It’s a fairly normal triangular nose, really. But it is big and (more…)
I’m afraid I don’t have too many memories (good ones at least) of my dad in the kitchen, but my grandfather…..ah, now that is another story.
Grandpa served as a cook in the army so he definitely knew about food. When I was very young, before we made the big move to Albany, we would spend a lot of time at my grandparents’ apartment. Food was a big part of any trip to Duffy Court and there was always lots of it. He would make all the wonderful roasts and potatoes and vegetables and Gramma would bake the delicious, delectable desserts.
But my favorite memory involved the Sunday breakfasts. Having adhered to the fasting requirements of the Catholic Church of the 50’s, we would suffer through Mass, hungry and fidgety,thinking about the wonderful aromas that would greet us as we filed out of the car and headed up the stairs to their second floor apartment. Sunday was pancake and sausage day! Grandpa would be standing at the griddle, churning out dozens of the golden hotcakes, filling our plates with as many as we wanted. But I was especially fond of the little breakfast sausages and I have a memory of being ruthlessly teased about only wanting one pancake while downing as many of the glistening sausages as I could get. This was a happy, carefree time for us children.
(As we got older, my brother Tom took over the role of pancake maker. Only he had it much harder. Where Grandpa had 4 hungry mouths to feed, Tom had almost twice that many. But he was up to the task, even if he did have to indulge his younger brother Terry in his quest to set a record for pancakes eaten with each meal.)
As has been mentioned in other entries, cooking for our grandfather was synonymous with loving us. He could be a gruff, grumpy man, but when he was making us a meal, he was a teddy bear. How lucky we were!
Thanks so much to all of our new followers! We’re really excited about this blog and Saturday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. I love, love, love reading submissions. We need just one more for this Saturday. Anyone have a good story about your dad, husband, father, son, uncle or other male relative and a favorite family food tradition? In the mean time, check out what K made me this year for my birthday: Italian Rainbow Cookies! Yum, yum, yum!
My grandparents were like another set of parents to me and I was lucky to grow up across the alley from them. Not only were they a constant source of encouragement and comfort to me, but their house was a constant source of good food and good memories. Some days my mom and I would be sitting at home when an invitation for “scraps” came our way. This was normally a conglomeration of only the best leftovers and sometimes included macaroni and cheese, grilled steak and mushrooms, grilled onions, a salad, and maybe some type of fish. It was a smorgasbord of complete awesomeness.
The most treasured memories of my grandfather (Papa) just might be the ones that involved him cooking. (more…)