"What was your family food culture when you were growing up?
My mom has always said that she could cook, she just didn't want to. There was lots of spaghetti with sauce from a jar. Always served with cinnamon raisin bread. Occasionally, she would make tacos for the extended family. Ground beef, shredded lettuce, tomatoes (in the summer from dad's garden). She fried the taco shells in a skillet but quit doing that when it popped and she got a pretty bad facial burn.
Christmas eve was the big holiday. My uncle barbecued a brisket and made barbecued beans. Mom made German potato salad. The GPS was served at 4th of July as well. The only two times a year it was made.
Some Swanson frozen dinners. An occasional round steak cooked extra super well done.
Was meal time important?
Yeah, we ate dinner as a family every night.
Was cooking important?
What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?
We were told not to do this.
Who cooked in the family?
Mom. Dad cooked once when mom was in the hospital. Spaghetti noodles with chili on top. My brother and I made fun of him until he got seriously mad. We were just having fun, but he was probably worried about mom. 10+ years later, I was watching Jeff Smith with him and JS made Cincinnati chili. Dad gave every bit of the grief I gave him back to me.
Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?
Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?
Our house was pretty small, when we went to someone else's house there was a kiddie table.
When did you get that first sip of wine?
I must have been 13 or so. I begged my dad for some wine on NYE. I think he got tired of hearing about it and bought a bottle of Boon's Farm. I had 1/4 of a glass and hated it. I threw up in church the next morning and that was the end of my parental sanctioned underage drinking.
Was there a pre-meal prayer?
Always. Catholic. Bless us O Lord....
Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?
Mom usually made a roast on Sunday.
How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?
German potato salad on Christmas Eve and July 4 lives on.
ETA: My mom grew up in an orphanage as well. Her mom died when she was 4. My grandfather worked for the railroad and took the kids (3) when he could, but they spent most of the 1930's in an orphanage.