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How we ate growing up


ivan
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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Southern American Cuisine and Bermudian Cuisine

Was meal time important?

The kids ate together, our parents ate later.

Was cooking important?

Yes and nutrition. My mother cooked both cuisines for the same meal often but not always.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

No penalties, we had food fights.

Who cooked in the family?

My Mother only.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

Never! I remember after watching TV one day and seeing people in a restaurant, I asked my mother, "Ma, how come the only restaurants we go to, they only say 'Four Franks' coming up"! (She laughed at that for years.)

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

No, we all ate together on special occasions.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

11 or 12 years old on New Year's Eve, it was Champagne.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Often, but not always.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Always Roast Pork on Sundays, followed by a Layer Cake from Shelley's Bakery in Flushing, New York. (Long gone.) When we were a bit older it was steak almost every day. It must have been the ease of broiling it. As a result, I didn't eat steak for 2 decades.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

I still love bacon, and sometimes cook southern style breakfasts.

Emma Peel

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What a great thread!

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Both of my parents are/were working class Midwesterners. Lots of meat and potatoes, peas, corn--the basics. (The first time I tried an artichoke was in college--I remember thinking of this as a momentous event.) My father kept a huge garden and my mother froze or canned most of our produce. She also made jam in huge batches--we often hadn't finished off the previous year's freezer jam when she started making the next batch. I gagged the first time I tried store-bought jam.

Was meal time important?

Dinner was, in that we were all expected to be home and at the table at 6:00. But the dinner table conversation typically consisted of "Hurry up and eat," and we kept the TV on so my dad could watch the news.

Was cooking important?

My mother has always liked trying new dessert recipes, but she sticks with her standards for entrees. She's an excellent cook, in that bland Midwestern comfort food way, and she takes great pride in being known for her cooking. I was seldom allowed in the kitchen--my mother's domain. I suppose she thought I'd be more work than help (and she might have been right.)

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

None. As long as you didn't knock anything over, you were fine. But woe be to she (me) who spilled her grape juice.

Who cooked in the family?

Only my mother. When she was occasionally away from home, my father opened a mean can of soup. (He is quite adept at the barbecue, but I grew up in Idaho, where barbecue season is short.)

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

We went out for pizza every two weeks, when my father got paid. Always to Shakey's. Always salami pizza. (I know. Ugh.)

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Depended on the size of the crowd. If we could all wedge in around the dining room table, we did. I think it made my mother nervous to have all those wild unattended children in another location.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Honestly, I can't remember. My parents were beer and cocktail drinkers--it's possible, as I think about this, that a college boyfriend gave me my first bottle of wine, from which I had my first sip.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Usually. "God is great, God is good, and we thank we thank Him for our food." Short and sweet.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Not formally, but my mom had a pretty standard repertoire: tuna casserole, cube steak, salmon cakes, chicken and biscuits, creamed hamburger on toast, spaghetti (the sauce for which was made with Campbell's tomato soup mixed with a can of tomato paste--to which my father added Tabasco. I didn't know what spaghetti was supposed to taste until I ordered it at a restaurant in high school).

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

I try to make mealtimes a family affair. My son always reminds us to say grace. It's easy to get everyone together, for now, because my kids are small and don't know anything different. We all eat together, even if we're just eating pizza. No TV, of course; I use mealtimes to help my kids learn how to make engaging conversation, and to catch up with them at the end of the day. This is very different from my family.

I also try to bring something new to the table at least once a week--a fruit or vegetable, usually. The rule in our house is "You have to try it; you can spit it out if you don't like it, but you have to try it." That way, my kids know there's no risk in taking chances with new foods. And they can't use the excuse that they've tried it before, since tastes change (I remind them of the fact that they both *loved* sweet potatoes when they were babies, though neither one will eat them now.)

My husband grew up in a family where very little cooking of any kind was done, so he's always grateful to have a meal on the table--whatever it is!

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This thread is remarkable -- thoughtful and poignant.

I have read several of the posts with a lump in my throat.

I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to share these memories with all of us.

You know, sometimes you think whatever was "normal" for you is the way it was for everyone.

You'd be very wrong.

These experiences have nothing in common; but yet, everything.  They are all about love and joy and happiness.  And family.  And anger and pain.  And food and fun and lack of either.

Thank you all.  And thank you, too, Ivan, for opening the floodgates to these images of the past.

AMEN!

These food memoirs are all the more remarkable to those of us who lived isolated social existences as children, whether because of growing up in another culture, or because we had few opportunities to dine with anyone other than our own families.

Yes, this does open the floodgates to memories.

Thank you, Ivan. And thank you, Jaymes, for your eloquent summation of what makes this thread so soul-fulfilling to read.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Happy to play this game. Find the responses fascinating. Unfortunately am computer challanged so the responses will not look as snazzy as some of yours. But am going to give it a try. Please excuse any lapses.

What was your family culture when you were growing up?

Basically grew up in the fifties. During most of that time the we purchased food at the grocerery, the green grocer, the butcher, the fish monger, etc. There were no supermarkets where we were (unless you consider the A&P that was less than half the size of your average 7-11 and where you would tell the clerk what you wanted and he would get it off the shelf. It had no meat or produce.) People wanted to make tasty meals but did so with a limited choice of ingredients. This was just after WWII and people were used to living without.

Was meal time important?

Dinner was, generally. We would all eat together until we got a TV, and then, except on Sundays, dinner became more of a tray table event than a meal at a table.

Was cooking important?

Not really. But I don't remember anyone thinking cooking was important when I grew up. Cookbooks, and I own a number from the fifties, were rather limited. Many sources of recipes were booklets from the A&P. Remember when Chung King Chow Mein (in cans) was introduced and that was considered exotic. Oh yeah, and we did not have pizza until I was twelve. People wanted to put a tasty meal out for their families, but the number of food items we had to choose from was limited and creative cooking was not something anyone did. Love James Beard, probably the best known cookbook author of the time, and even his recipes are fairly stodgy by modern standards.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

None that I recall. Although, other than that, we did have to mind our manners. Conversation at dinner could include almost anything. Almost, because most of us could eat and discuss the goriest of matters without skipping a mouthful. My dad, however, did not share that trait. When the conversation tended to the, well, medical or anatomical, he would ask for us to change the topic. Which we did.

Who cooked in the family?

Generally my mom. She stayed home to raise us (I shudder to think how we would have turned out had she not). For Sunday dinner, and Thanksgiving and Christmas my dad would be there doing his share. Usually my dad would make us breakfast (letting my mom sleep). He would make us hamburgers, franks, sausages, never anything traditionally associated with breakfast (we hated the traditional breakfast regimen and he figured that a hamburger was at least as healthy as a bowl of corn flakes with sugar and milk). He was a pretty good home short order cook and could make some fine egg dishes.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

As young children we would occasionally go to a local seafood restaurant, generally for lunch on a Saturday. We did not have much money for extras, ever. As we got a bit older, would go to Chinese restaurants on occasion. Never went out on special occasions though.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

On occasion. I hated them.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Gosh, who remembers.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

No.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No, my mom really tried to vary our meals. But in the fifties the choices of food were limited to most regular folks. Much of the produce was seasonal, but my mom would use what she could find at the local stores (most of my time growing up was before we had supermarkets). We always had fish on Friday though. No, we were not Catholic, but the local butcher always stocked fish on that day. Or we could take the trolley and go to the fishmonger. Always looked forward to Friday (end of the week, and a good fish dinner).

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Not too much. There are two of us, no kids. And though we love to cook, we rarely have formal meals, that doggone TV and computer.

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Burgundy/Rhone country French and North-African. Big lower, middle class family. 7 kids, papa died when I was 7 or 8. Oldest brother, who was 12 years my senior took over as the man of the family, but he died when I was 15.

Was meal time important?

Very important. When maman called us to the table we all came rushing and were expected to behave. Absolutely no misbehaving at the table.

Was cooking important?

Yes, my maman and my older sister did most of it, I was the only boy who ever helped out. I was very attached to the kitchen, beginning a young age. We didn't have a frigo, so everything was fresh. The farmer's market came weekly. It was all local and seasonal.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Where else am I suppose to put them?

Who cooked in the family?

Answered above. Alot of Algerian cookery is slow food par excellence. I didn't know what fast food was at all untill I went to Paris for school.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

We never, ever dined out when I was a kid. To this day my maman has NEVER eaten at a restaurant. Not even one that I worked at.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

No kiddy table.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Sometime when in my early teens.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Not really.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No, but the same things surfaced all the time.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Not too much in terms of family culture. I'm not a strict, rigid papa at all. My wife is equally relaxed. We let our daughter choose what she wants to eat, within certain nutritional guidelines. The type of food I grew up with is replicated considerably though.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Varied; part of the time (v young) I lived with my grandparents, when my mother travelled for work. That part of my life, food was British/Canadian overdone veggies, lots of gravy, canned fruit with bread and butter for dessert :wub:

When I lived with my mother, food was much more varied, including things like spaghetti, for example. When we moved to the US and lived with my stepdad, more varied still, although still pretty standard Canadian/American stuff. My dad likes to have a salad with dinner, so we went to three courses most nights (shocking to think, now, but my mum was not working for many years).

Was meal time important?

Yes; up until I was 16 and went away to school, we normally would have dinner together every night. My dad travelled a lot for work for several years, so my mum and I were a bit more relaxed in his absence (dinner in front of the TV, maybe, or no salad), but still it was important. If I had school activities that made me miss regular dinner time, they would sometimes wait for me, or else come and sit with me while I ate so we could still have that dinner-table conversation.

Was cooking important?

Yes. I'd help with dinner, my dad made his special meatloaf, I'd keep my mum company while baking pies, she and I would make cookies and other things.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Not harsh enough, as I find myself doing it shamefully often.

Who cooked in the family?

Mostly my mother, although my dad enjoys it too. When he found the Frugal Gourmet, he liked to do even more than before.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

That evolved as available cash did. When I was a small child, Report Card Dinners with my mum were our twice a semester extravaganza; good restaurants, anything I wanted to eat on the menu. I learned good restaurant manners early. Other than those, mostly we'd have pancake breakfasts out or McDonald's once in a while, or maybe The Spaghetti Factory. The Bayshore for lunch.

When we went east and lived with my dad, there was less money available for a long time, and restaurant meals were decidedly fewer, although we still ate well. Of course we were living just outside NYC, and prices were not low. From that time, I remember...Carvel and the odd Brew Burger. A family friend took me to La Grenouille once, as a special treat; IIRC, I had crab-stuffed flounder, and they wrapped up my leftovers in a swan. Later on in Philadelphia, there was more cash and more restaurant meals.

When I moved to Montréal to go to school at 16, when they visited, we'd eat out all the time, at all kinds of restaurants.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Not in my house (only child). Children were expected to behave appropriately, although we might be excused early. I was always affronted when relegated to a children's table elsewhere.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Champagne for some occasion or other, I think, around age 12?

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

At my grandmother's table, yes; at ours, only at religious holidays.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Very little, as the cats and I have different tastes and eating schedules, really :wink:

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Cool thread!!!

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

--Mix of basic suburban American mid-20th century fare, New York metro-area variant (i.e. with ethnic add-ins from a whole bunch of different cultures) and Eastern European Jewish. We were majorly non-religious, so did not keep kosher--in fact, we all loved our traif as well as our Jewish chazerei. :biggrin:

Was meal time important?

--Heh. Almost too important. We all had a tendency to overeat and overweight; there was much angst, handwringing, and ill-advised dieting (remember Stillman? The no-carb fad before Atkins? Oy.) But when we weren't driving ourselves or each other crazy with food/weight guilt trips, we all definitely enjoyed our food. *Nobody* missed dinner. Ever. Sunday brunch was, if anything, even more important.

Was cooking important?

--Oh yes. My mother especially had definite opinions on cooking and food. We had some convenience foods around the house, and I don't recall my mom ever making a baked good totally from scratch rather than a mix, but otherwise food was pretty much cooked from scratch.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

--We'd get the "Ellen Ellen big and able, keep your elbows off the table/ this is not a horse's stable, but a proper dining table." But said with a wink and a laugh (as well as substituting the perpetrator's name for "Mabel" or whatever the more standard version of that rhyme is), so I don't think we kids ever took it too seriously.

Who cooked in the family?

--Mom did the bulk of the cooking. Dad would occasionally help with things like salad (we had a tossed green salad with almost every dinner, another stab at trying to think "diet"--didn't work, but the salads were nice). As I got older, say past eight, I started helping in the kitchen too. Major holiday dinners were a team affair between my mother and me.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

--Somewhere in-between. My whole family enjoyed restaurants--mostly non-fancy places like diners, pizzarias, Chinese restaurants, etc. When we'd take vacations by car--which we did fairly often--we'd go nuts for seeking out all kind of interesting dining experiences. I have especially fond food memories from trips to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and to Cape Cod and Rhode Island.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Not as a general rule, although when we went for big family gatherings that overflowed the host's dining table, we'd sometimes stick a card table at the end of the dining table and put the kids there--more because they'd be more comfortable at the lower table than anything else.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Around twelve or thirteen--a sip off my folks' (not very expensive) champagne as we watched the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration on TV.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

In my immediate family--nope. Occasionally when we went to have holiday dinners with my mother's sister and her big brood in Brooklyn, her husband/my uncle would do that corny "Rub a dub dub/thanks for the grub/Yay, God!" thing before we dug into dinner. (Everyone in my family had to be a comedian. :rolleyes: )

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Not really. Sunday brunch was the most predictable meal--we'd alternate between scrambled eggs vs. bagels and lox.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

My mom's pressuring to the contrary, I pretty much chose not to settle down and raise a family. My mom passed away in 1987 when I was in my late twenties, and with her went the main person who'd regularly summon my immediate family together. So nowadays I only get to enjoy the family-meal dynamic when I get invited to join a friend's family for a holiday meal, or on the now extremely-rare occasions that the extended family has a reunion ... or when I've shared food and cooking with my surrogate family of friends and associates.

I still treasure and occasionally prepare a lot of the recipes I learned from my mom. In fact, my love of cooking pretty much was born from my early experiences of watching and helping my mom cook, as well as from my family's general adventurousness in exploring new and different foods.

Alas, also among my family's food legacies was a whole pile of residual angst and neurosis about food--or more specifically, about dieting and weight. It's been a, well, *interesting* process over the years to pry that crap out of my head and return to the innocent enjoyment of food. (As in the ancient curse "May you live in *interesting* times." :rolleyes: ) All I can say, folks, is ... if you happen to have an offspring who has any kind of issues about food and weight, please try to be as gentle with them as you possibly can when addressing said issues--you'll save them, and yourselves, a whole lotta aggravation (not to mention therapist bills when they grow up).

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  • 1 month later...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

It changed in relation to how much money was available for food. My early childhood is filled with homemade, from-scratch simple foods like chili, greens and hamhocks, fry bread, corn bread, chocolate pudding and bananas in milk for breakfast. As I got older and my mother married and began to work outside of the home more, we ate more convenience foods and take-out.

Was meal time important?

Very important until I was about 16 or so. We ate exactly at 6:30 every night at the table as a family.

Was cooking important?

Not so much. It was more about family time around the table eating and making sure there was food to eat. As my family became more affluent we ate more take-out. And I was never really allowed to cook in my mother's kitchen, she's very territorial.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Naw, but no television and no telephone calls.

Who cooked in the family?

My mother in the immediate family and my grandmother if she was over or we ate at her house.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

See above. My first restaurant meal was take-out Pizza Hut at a kid's birthday party in first grade, I was six. My family never ate out during my childhood, my mother still considers it a necessary evil to balance her schedule.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Nope.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Catholic mass with a friend in sixth or seventh grade.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Occassionally, usually only if grandmother was around.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Chili every Friday night with chili and eggs on Saturday morning.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

I replicate quite a bit from my early childhood. My favorite food is still trad Southern fare with an Indigenous twist. I love cooking from scratch even if it's really simple foods and I eschew eating out unless the food is exceptional and the experience is something that cannot be duplicated at home. Where I differ is that I spend a large percentage of my monthly budget on food - organic produce and imported cheeses... and wine.

Thou Shalt Not Eat Food By DuPont. - Barb
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Alas, also among my family's food legacies was a whole pile of residual angst and neurosis about food--or more specifically, about dieting and weight. It's been a, well, *interesting* process over the years to pry that crap out of my head and return to the innocent enjoyment of food. (As in the ancient curse "May you live in *interesting* times."  ) All I can say, folks, is ... if you happen to have an offspring who has any kind of issues about food and weight, please try to be as gentle with them as you possibly can when addressing said issues--you'll save them, and yourselves, a whole lotta aggravation (not to mention therapist bills when they grow up).

Amen to that. My family has the same hangups and there was an inordinate amount of focus on weight and dieting for young females in my family. All I'll say about that is that the end results of that focus are not fun and not pretty. I have my own therapist bills to prove it.

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  • 4 months later...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

We ate chinese food every night.

Was meal time important?

We ate later than all the other people in the neighborhood because both my parents worked long hours

Was cooking important?

I don't see why it wouldn't be.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

no table manners enforced. Slurping food and putting bones on the table encouraged.

Who cooked in the family?

Parents or grandparents.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

About once a week.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

I'm still at the "kiddie table." Except it's a kiddie table full of unmarried twenty-somethings.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Communion

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

yes

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

We could normally get mom to make tacos at will.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

dunno.

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

-Midwestern. Very simple meals. (I think my mom's spice rack consists of salt, pepper, cinnamon and garlic powder... but everything she made, and still makes, was delicious.) Three meals a day. My mom was stickler for the food groups. We weren't allowed to have sugary cereal and at dinner we had to have meat, starch, veg, cottage cheese, a piece of bread, and a glass of milk. Always milk. We were always very well fed, even when money was short. As we got older we knew that if we were having tuna patties or pancakes for supper, mom and dad were broke. We were 25 miles from what anyone would consider a town, so the only pizza we ever saw was made from Robin Hood dough mix and spaghetti sauce. Mexican meant tacos from a box and Italian meant spaghetti. Chinese food was something that you got when you went to stay with Grandma in the big city. Not that that's a bad thing... we had a beautiful garden every year and our neighbors had three pig roasts every summer. I loved it.

Was meal time important?

-Meals were important because we all loved to eat, but during the week the time always varied. Both of my parents worked, my dad coached, and my siblings had practice, so dinner might be at 6 or it might be at 9. The kids sat at the dining room table, mom picked while she cooked so she often didn't eat with us. Dad sat in the living room. Actually, he laid on the floor, propped up on his elbows with the plate in front of him. :laugh: That's actually really funny... I haven't thought about that in years. He probably has too much belly to do that now.

Was cooking important?

-Absolutely. It was, and still is, my mother's only form of expression. Especially on Sundays when she spent the whole day preparing something. She loves Sunday's.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

-My mother would just tell us to get our elbows off the table. We always listened, so I don't know. Grandma B. was a different story. She didn't give you any warning... she'd just whack your elbow with the back of her knife. Old bat.

Who cooked in the family?

-Mostly mom. Dad had to make any meals that involved venison as my mom HATED it. Now my dad is the breakfast master. My daughter has "Papa eggs" and "Papa cakes" every time she stays the night.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

-Restaurant meals were virtually non-existant for my family. I can probably count on one hand the times that we went out and those times weren't anything to write home about. The closest town was 25 miles away so it just never really happened. The elbow whackin' grandma took me out quite a few times tho'. She was a bit of a foodie herself and quite a tough customer. She wasn't afraid to send a meal back or refuse to pay for something that didn't meet her high standards.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

-Yeah. My mom would set up a big table in the basement for us.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

-I have no idea. No one in my family drank wine so I'm sure it was from a schoolmate.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

-Only on holidays. I have a faithful family, but none of them are terribly religious.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

-Not at all.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

-My husband and I have a terrible schedule and my dining room table is covered with paperwork, so we don't get to sit around the table and eat together. I hope to remedy that at some point. Oh and my husband and I probably eat at a restaurant every other week. That's different!

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  • 4 weeks later...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Suburban Iowa and Southern with surreptitious injections of Greek when dad wasn't home.

Was meal time important?

It was. Mom was a housewife, and we ate meals together. We didn't leave the table without permission, and no television on during meals.

Was cooking important?

Definitely, even if mostly expressed in "hrumphs" from my dad when my mother did something surreptitiously Greek like adding cinnamon to meatballs...

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

A flick on the elbow. Actually table manners were the focus of much pain and sibling rivalry. I can still see my little brother sitting there, staring at me, waiting for my mouth to open slightly so that he could shout "Robert, chew with your mouth closed!" :)

Who cooked in the family?

Mom mostly, but my brother and I got into it later. Dad mostly cooked "manly" things. Cooking steaks was his duty, as this was done outside. He was good at it. The division of labor along gender lines was interesting. Once I cooked a big meal for the family, and my dad made the comment, "someday you'll make someone a great wife." Mom didn't sit still for that.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

Both, we didn't go out a lot. When we were little it was always special, even MacDonald's. Later we would go out every month or so, sometimes to "family" restaurants, sometimes to a "nice" place. When we went to Chicago when I was in third grade, Dad made a point of taking use to the Berhghoff, where I was allowed to try lobster for the first time. My parents probably regretted it ever since...;)

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

When we were younger we did. We looked forward to it.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Very young. I didn't like it; I was well into my 30s before I started really appreciating it in any way.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

"God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food, by his hand we all are fed, we thank Him for our daily bread, aaaaa-men." We did it out of a sense of propriety, it didn't last that long. Dad would always do an extemporaneous grace before big holiday meals.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Never. The only regularity was that my father was a musician who was away one or two weekends a month, and that was when my mother would go back to her Greek roots and make the things my father wouldn't eat.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Not much by percentage. Especially when I was young and my father was a grad student, we ate a lot of spam... I do have a few favorite dessert recipes, christmas cookies etc. that we had when I was a kid. I [thought I] hated vegetables as they were all from cans, occasionally frozen -- when I was in 5th grade, my mom planted a huge vegetable garden one summer and I first tried fresh beans and peas; it was a revelation. I had never tried them before. My father died young and when my brother and I left the house, my mom was perfectly happy to live on easy things like sandwiches and fresh fruit etc., only cooking when she really feels like doing something special for herself. She's perfectly happy with a peanut butter sandwich on hillbilly bread, a salad, jello instant pudding for dessert. She loves good food, she just has too many other things she wants to do to spend extra time in the kitchen. But she loves it when I visit, because she does love good cooking, and alsl I bring her lokum from Haci Bekir. I was always interested in trying whatever was new; I remember spending 10 dollars on a pound of durian, which I had heard about in 3rd grade and sworn I would try, during a time when I hardly had ten dollars to spare. I was drawn by the Greek side of the family and loved Greek food when I finally visited. As my mother's father's side were Greeks from Turkey, they had food habits a bit different from those of Greece. Now I live in Istanbul and food is a major part of my life here; It's interesting to rediscover many of those dishes and compare them with my family's take on them. Even if I didn't like Turkish cooking, I would still be happy here because of the immense variety of fresh produce and other ingredients. It's the thing I miss almost immediately when I go home for visits, especially things that are commonplace here (like celeriac) that cost a lot in the US, and things like peaches that I had long since given up on at home. I think many of my eating habits are a reaction to the way we ate when I was a kid!

Edited by sazji (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

My mom hated to cook. My dad grew up in an immigrant Irish household, his mom died when he was 7. He hated potatoes (still does) but that and boiled meat was pretty much all his dad made. He still tells me about pressing his nose up against his friend's window at dinner time (Italian immigrants) hoping for invitations to a dinner that actually tasted like something. My mom cooked a very small and simple repertoire of typically Midwestern food (meatloaf, pork chops with cream-of-mushroom-soup sauce, hamburger helper, spaghetti with sauce out of a can, etc.). She pretty much went on strike by the time I was 12, and I learned to cook in self-defense.

Was meal time important?

After my mom stopped cooking, nope. Dinner was whatever we dug out of the kitchen eaten in the living room in front of the TV. We did have holiday meals together. Before my mom stopped cooking, we did the standard sit down at the table thing, and the whole dinner took 15-20 minutes tops.

Was cooking important?

No. My dad liked to grill (although he likes everything well done). My mom did do some holiday baking (at least until I learned to do it). I wanted to learn to cook, however, and learned from friends, parents of friends, and in one notable case, a kind employer.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Hmm... not really, although I was aware of the rule. I think we at least learned basic table manners, and I remember people using napkins and behaving appropriately.

Who cooked in the family?

My mom until I was 12, then me or my dad (when grilling was in order).

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

Not too common, but not unheard of. When I got to be a teenager, my dad went to fancier restaurants than I was used to (i.e. not Denny's, but restaurants with an actual chef) and he would sometimes bring me along because my mom didn't want to go.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Yep-- I have a zillion cousins who I saw frequently, and it was a big deal when we "graduated" to the big kids table.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

I think I was about 10 when my dad started letting me have a small glass of wine with special (holiday) meals. I didn't like it much until I spend a year in France in college.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Yep, a standard Catholic one.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No, but we did have take-out pizza every Friday. It started out as the only thing everyone would eat on meatless Fridays in Lent, then kind of expanded to be a year-round thing.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Not too much. My husband comes from a real sit-down-at-the-table-and-have-family-dinner-or-else family. I resisted until we had kids, but now I cook dinner nearly every night and we all sit at the table together-- even the one year old. He also comes from the hunk of meat, hunk of starch, hunk of vegetables background, whereas I actually learned to cook from Chinese, Korean and French friends. Our meals are a mix-- sometimes cooked his way, sometimes something more exotic. I did pick up the habit of big holiday meals-- we live a long way from home though, so I usually invite a bunch of friends. When at home for Christmas (we go back every year), I do all the cooking. My parents love it. It's the only time they get regular home cooking! My mother is still mystified that I actually learned to cook. I also love to have guests over-- when I'm not too busy at work, I have people over two nights a week or more. That comes from my family in a way, we always had a bunch of friends over for Friday pizza or for a barbeque. My husband's family is much more private and rarely had folks for dinner.

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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Fun! I love these!

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Really pretty gourmet at the time, especially in comparison to other people we knew. But, when I read about what people on egullet eat, especially the kids, it doesn't seem so gourmet! It was good whatever it was!

When I was born, my mom was a total health nut and hippie, especially for the times (1980)... she did yoga everyday, made all of my baby food, had me in cloth diapers, wouldn't let me eat sugared cereals, etc., etc. (I had a baby tee that said "Breast Fed and Proud!") I used to go to my dad's work after school and he had Frosted Flakes and those little glass bottles of coke for me there... mom never knew! :wink:

Was meal time important?

Very important... it was never really stressed to us or forced upon us, but we ALWAYS ate dinner together. I never realized how uncommon that was until I got a bit older.

Was cooking important?

Yes, but I didn't always take advantage. I was mostly the sous chef and I did some baking.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

No penalties... not that formal.

Who cooked in the family?

Mom and Dad equally. Didn't realize this was uncommon either, until I met my best friend!

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

I'd say pretty common... the older we got, the more so.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Depends on whose house we're eating at... at my great aunt's, yes, but it ends up being more of the "fun people" table! My dad always ate at whatever table my brother and I ate at, so I guess he's considered a "kid" too! (He always said, and still does say, that he liked us better!) :smile:

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Sometimes, depended on the stage of life we were in. My grandpa always prays when we have get-togethers.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Nope... didn't have too many repeats. In fact, this is what my boyfriend complains about sometimes... that I never make the same thing twice! It's not intentional, it just happens!

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

A lot... we eat out too much, we always eat together, and I'm always calling my parents for this recipe or that recipe!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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Great thread... it made me remember many things...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Average American - not too adventerous. Spaghetti, Hamburger Helper, baked chicken, etc. Always an iceberg salad with dinner. Every now and then mom would get "into" some food fad - like fondue. Once she learned how to make soup stock and we had soup for days!

Was meal time important?

Extremely. We ate together every night, based on the time dad got home, which could be quite late, but we never dreamed to eat without him. No TV, no music, placemats and proper silverware. When dad was not going to be home for some business reason, the real treat was to eat breakfast for dinner - for some reason, he thought this was heresy. When they both were gone, the big treat was to fry a bunch of bacon, move the coffee table in front of the TV, put the toaster out and make bunches of BLTs. Bro and I were also into TV dinners, mac and cheese (the blue box) and pot pies.

Was cooking important?

I think it was just for nutrition, a chore. From an early age my deal with my mom was I could cook or clean up, so I cooked most nights (I still hate clean up!)

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

My folks were real sticklers on table manners, including physical ccrrection if necessary. They were pretty formal, such has how to pass a dish, and never passing the salt without the pepper.

Who cooked in the family?

Mom until I was 10 or so (see above.) Dad used to try to grill, but I took over those duties because he overcook everything!

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

Mostly special occasions. On the rare occasion when dad would not be joining us, IHOP was a big treat. Other than that it was either fast food or chains - Sizzlers, Big Boy, etc.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Only when enough friends and family were over for a holiday.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Came and went in stages. Always on holidays, on non-holidays it was sporatic. "Bless us O Lord, this food to our use and us to Thy service. Make us every mindful of the needs of others. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" was the standard non holiday grace. On holidays someone would be chosen to give a "free form" grace. Thanksgiving we usually had to go around the table and say what we were greatful for...

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Sunday night was usually steak and salad. Otherwise we had a fairly limited repetoire of meals - made over and over again. My mother grew to hate the inevitable question "What's for dinner?"

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Very little - I'm single so I am cooking for one most of the time. I tend to only have a salad, or an entree - I don't do the salad, starch, veggie, meat type of meals. I also tend to eat on the couch a lot of nights. If I'm not with family on holidays, though, I do the complete family traditional meals, even though it means I'm eating/freezing leftovers for weeks.

Again, great thread!

Edited by eJulia (log)

"Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”

Francois Minot

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Chinese. Cantonese homestyle cuisine.

Was meal time important?

Very important. My dad would start the rice at 6pm, not 6:15, not 6:03, but 6pm on the dot, when 1010 WINS News rang the hour. We were all expected to be at the dinner table at 6:30--it was our time together. Dinner still plays a central role in our family gatherings.

Was cooking important?

Yes. Ingredients were always very fresh. I never knew that vegetables came canned or frozen, or that chicken came pre-packaged until I got older.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

We got more of a tsk-tsk from but my mom, who constantly threatened to put a mirror on the table so we can view our bad table manners firsthand. She said her father did that to her. Elbows weren’t considered as bad a transgression as others. Major table rules: we made sure our parents (or elders) started eating first, we had to take a bite of rice first before reaching for a piece of meat/vegetable (we ate family style), we had to take the piece closest to us (IOW, we weren't to reach across the plate for a piece we wanted no matter how good it looked), give an elder a choice piece of meat, we had to finish every grain of rice in your bowl… It wasn't as bad as it seems.

Who cooked in the family?

My parents are/were equally good cooks. They would share the prep work, but my dad did most of the cooking.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

We’d occasionally have dim sum on Sundays, but since we didn't have much money growing up, dinner was for special occasions. When we did go out on the rare Sunday night, it was always to Hop Sing in NY Chinatown.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Never. You can’t have a family dinner without kids!!

When did you get that first sip of wine?

My parents weren’t big drinkers, so my first taste of wine was around the age of 13, when I had my first Communion. Inglenook port. That came in a gallon jug. Blech!

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

No, but us kids would say what would be best translated into “Eat rice Daddy, Eat rice Mommy.” (I think this was to show respect to our parents--any of you Chinese-Americans do that?)

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No, but rice was served at every meal.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

A lot. Because we had a hot meal every day, to this day I still have a problem having a cold meal for dinner, no matter how hot it is outside. I still prefer stir-fried veggies to salads, rice to pasta. I’m also coming to the realization that my parents won’t be around forever, and it’s more important to me now to make sure that I can replicate as many dishes as possible. It’s my comfort food, and I try to make it as often as possible. The meals I generally make are very much like the ones I had growing up—not very fancy, with a few fresh ingredients and a simple preparation—and absolutely delicious.

This is a great thread!

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

My mom was a very basic cook, good food nonetheless. She rarely used cookbooks and many of the meals were the same old from week to week. As a French Acadian in the maritimes, she made a few dishes that were typical for her heritage. Chicken Fricot was and still is one of my favorites and Poutine Rape (not quite sure how to do the correct accents on the "a" and "e" on my keyboard...), haven't tasted since I was young and always thought of it as a soggy potato, never liked it.

Was meal time important?

Meal time was very important, we always ate together as a family which grew increasingly difficult as we got older and were very involved in sports.

Was cooking important?

I think it was important that we ate good meals but I think that cooking was seen as a mundane routine instead of the experience that it can be when you take the time to thoughtfully plan a meal and cook it. I see cooking as a way to show my family and friends that I care about them.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

There were no penalties for putting elbows on the table, just reminders to sit properly at the table. We did have to eat everything on our plate though. I remember the one and only time my mom made liver as a long and painful meal.

Who cooked in the family?

My mom did all the cooking with my dad cooking in the kitchen on the rare occasion when he got the urge to cook up some strange concoction that he thought would taste good.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

We didn't have a whole lot of money growing up and with four kids, restaurant meals were not common and eating out at even McDonald's was a treat.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

My parents didn't entertain at dinner very often. The only time we had guests over would be on holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, and long tables would be set up in the living room to accommodate everyone. If we had a holiday meal at my grandparents, there would be a kiddie table set up.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Neither of my parents were wine drinkers so there was never wine served with a meal. My first sip of wine was my first experience with drinking at the age of 14, some cheap red wine that tasted disgusting. Needless to say, I didn't drink alcohol again until I hit high school.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Only on holidays when my grandparents were at the table.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Not a rotating menu on a specific day, but what was served was pretty typical from week to week. Potatoes was and is still my mom's favourite and was typically the side served with some sort of meat most days. Until I was older, I didn't know that you would serve anything else on the side. Rice was reserved for those days when she made homemade Chinese food and pasta was unthinkable as a side, it would be a main with a tomato based sauce on top.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

We eat together as a family and I do the cooking in the house and that is about it. I like to try new recipes and am constantly searching for new recipes to try out. I do revert back to some tried and true meals from time to time but like to experiment a lot. Unfortunately my DH is not very adventurous in eating but I have more than made up for it with my children's eating habits. They will eat pretty much everything I put in front of them. I do not force them to eat everything on their plate but they have to at least try everything that I serve them and eat "most" of their meal (I don't want to be cooking again in another half hour because they are hungry...). I also love to entertain and have guests over for dinner. Working full time and having kids who are pretty involved in extra curricular activities, I don't get to do it as much as I would like. My friends are very appreciative of my cooking and are excited when they get an invite over for dinner. They know how much I enjoy cooking and how much thought, and love, goes into what I am preparing.

A truly destitute man is not one without riches, but the poor wretch who has never partaken of lobster. - anonymous
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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Ours was kind of unusual for the time and place. WWII started when I was in first grade and we lived in a tiny lumber town where the pavement ended in the Sierra Nevada. Because we were at the end of the line there were frequent shortages. There were also numerous Italian and Mexicans working in the lumber industry so foreign foods weren't at all unusual. Between Victory Gardens and my grandparents chickens and cows we were never really suffering.

Was meal time important?

Yes, in as much as we all sat down at the table at the same time. Best was when we went to grandparent's for dinner because Grandma was a much better cook than Mom and always served dessert.

Was cooking important?

I think Mom got bored with it a lot of the time. She did a lot of poorly thought out short cuts.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

If Dad noticed we got a rap on the elbow with the handle of his knife. Not fun!

Who cooked in the family?

Mom cooked but Dad instructed her on how "it should be done".

I really began cooking when Mom went to work because Dad's job kept him away from home a lot and, if we kids wanted food, it was up to me as the eldest.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

I remember only two restaurant dinners until I was in high school. We went to the local Italian family restaurants where the food was served in big bowls and platters and a pitcher of red wine was set on the table. Loved that ravioli!

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Yes, if there wasn't room at the big table. My grandfather had made some folding extensions for their big dining table so there was usually room for everyone.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Don't remember exactly. On special occasions like Thanksgiving were given watered wine at an early age.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Never.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No. Mom was always trying new recipes that she found in magazines and newspapers. I remember her first attempts at gnocci and pizza were pretty weird.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Not very much. My kids are all grown and have their own families and I do see some things that seem to be going on to the next generation like everyone sitting down together, excusing ones self when leaving the table, etc.

Dad passed away 4 years ago and Mom is in a care facility. They were married for 67 years. Mom's favorite thing is to have a family get-together as often as possible and always apologizes for not being able to bring anything.

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Southern, hard-core, all the way. Bacon grease, grits, chicken on sundays, sweet tea, the works.

Was meal time important?

Not terribly, it seemed to happen at roughly the same time, but not because of any particular urgency, just traditional schedule.

Was cooking important?

Was breathing?

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

A good yelling-at. Not really any actual task or punishment, just being verbally chastised.

Who cooked in the family?

Mom, and did she ever.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

Very special occasions, but realistically, what's the point. When mom cooks you buttermilk pancakes in the morning, sandwiches at lunch, and anything you want at dinner, who needs to pay to eat?

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

No friggin' way.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Either Thanksgiving or Christmas at an early age, not sure when. Though I do remember them saying you aren't supposed to drink it all in one go. Ah well.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Depends, it kind of varied, on special occasions most definitely.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Not really, but there was fried chicken nearly every sunday.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Well, I'm not home anymore, and I have no family yet. I would say not too much. But I can reminisce with the best of them.

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  • 1 month later...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Food was always extremely important to my family--it was a way my Chinese parents expressed their love. My mom was born in Shanghai, and was raised in Hong Kong and Taiwan. She came over to Vancouver in her 20s. My dad was born in Canton, and immigrated to Calgary when he was 9.

Food was an integral part of both households--my paternal grandparents owned a few restaurants in Calgary, so my dad and his siblings grew up in that environment. My grandparents were always busy running their restaurants, and my dad's afternoon chore after school was to peel a hundred pounds of potatoes everyday--(is this like one of those "I walked uphill to school in 3 feet of snow, bothways!" stories? :laugh: ) When my dad was a teenager, he bussed tables at various restaurants in Vancouver, one of them being Hy's Encore (a higher-end steakhouse).

My mom has always loved to eat, and was alloted an allowance when she was in school in HK. Unfortunately, she would spend almost all of it during the first 2 weeks of the month on American chocolate bars (quite a novelty when she was growing up in the 60s,) dumplings, soy milk, and mangoes, and would have to beg her older brother for money for the rest of the month. My grandparents owned a large textile factory, and were moderately wealthy. My mom and my uncle would eat dinner prepared by one of the family cooks.

Was meal time important?

Yes, very important. My mom always prepared a well-rounded breakfast for me when I was too young to cook. Teachers in elementary school exclaimed over my rather elaborate (and hearty) lunches. We always ate together as a family at dinner.

Was cooking important?

Yes, cooking was very important. My parents make almost everything from scratch, although I have had the occasional canned soup and Kraft dinner for lunch, like most kids. :smile:

For birthdays and special occasions, my mom would take a few days off work and start doing the prep work for the dishes at least three days in advance. On the special night, there would be at least twelve meticulously-prepared, traditional Chinese dishes on the table, and at least two soups. The man who developed our pictures once asked my mom which restaurant we were ordering all this food from, since it always looked so good and there was such a variety. :wub:

I started baking when I was about 11 (cookies, cakes, fillings, and frostings from scratch) because I've watched my mom do it for so many years, and she finally thought I was responsible enough to use the oven without assistance when I was 11. Since then, she has left all the baking up to me, although she does make Chinese desserts still.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

None, but we weren't allowed to have the TV on during dinner. Also, if I finished eating before everyone else, I would have to say: "May I please be excused from the table," before I was allowed to bring my bowl and chopsticks to the sink.

Who cooked in the family?

Both my parents cook--my mom is great at preparing Chinese dishes, and my dad makes "Western" dishes. My dad's parents owned restaurants that served "Western" food (like schnitzel, roast beef, mashed potatoes, etc.) so that's the stuff my dad knows how to do quite well.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

Restaurant meals were common--every Sunday after church, we would go out for dim sum. There were several "banquet-style" Chinese meals a year. In high school, I would chose either Greek food or Japanese food if I were given the choice.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Yes, but that's because our dining table is too small to fit 20-plus people. Plus, the kids like to sit together anyway. :smile: (Actually, I still sit at the kiddie table! :blush:)

When did you get that first sip of wine?

Probably in grade 8, when I drank some from my dad's glass.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Not as a family, but I did pray with my siblings before dinner up until I decided I was atheist.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No, but weekends meant "special" meals (i.e. ANYTHING NON-CHINESE!! :laugh: ) when my dad would cook! Usually it was prime rib (his favourite, and one of my favourites too!)

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

I currently still live with my family, but when I moved out for about 6 months last year, much of what I cooked was simple, everyday Western/French-inspired food. I made Chinese food too, but perhaps only twice a week. I did a lot of classic bistro dishes, and easy things like baked salmon, roast chicken, roast potatoes, etc. (I did de-bone my own chickens, render the skin for schmaltz, and use the carcass for stock, though!)

Now that I'm back at home with my family (with a much bigger kitchen, thank God!) I have more space to bake, so I try to take advantage of that. :smile:

Growing up, I didn't eat at my friends' houses very often (partly because I went to a private school in Vancouver and lived in Richmond, so I didn't live very close to anyone). I took it for granted. I thought all my peers ate as well as I did--live seafood killed hours before dinner, bird's nest soup whenever I did well in school, abalone in the congee as an "everyday" lunch (served, of course, with salted duck eggs, Chinese donuts, pickled cucumbers, dried "pork fluff", and a variety of other "sides"). Now that I'm older, I have a much greater appreciation for what my (middle-class) parents sacrificed in order to feed us so well. I hope to extend that same love to my future family, and continue the love and respect my parents instilled in me for food. :wub:

Edited by Ling (log)
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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

White Australian with extreme British influences. Primarily we had meat and three veg. Meat could be anything from chops, sausages, rissoles or BBQ Chicken. She would also make other old school favourites like corned beef with white sauce. It was mostly bland offerings, mum didn't believe in cooking with any salt at all.

When I was 10 or 11, mum discovered some international cuisine. Suddenly, we were eating KanTong simmer sauce stirfries and pasta that wasn't always spag bol. She also discovered Chicken Tonight sauces and the Maggi seasoning mixes. So we would have Mango or Apricot Chicken, Devilled Sausages, Curried Sausages and etc. Frozen lasagne was BIG too. She never ever made that.

I should mention that mum was an excellent roaster. I always used to ask for Roast Beef if I was shopping with her, because I LOVED yorkshire pudding.

Was meal time important?

Eating together was a big deal. Everyone had their assigned seat at the table

Was cooking important?

Sometimes, but particularly in my later childhood it was not.

I remember learning how to make scones from scratch at 5 years old, and I remember mum trying out all sorts of new recipes for finger foods, including devon wrapped around mashed potato. But I also remember all the processed "sauces" that were used to get a quick fix.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Being told off.

Who cooked in the family?

Mum, unless it was a BBQ, at which point it would be dad. Mum would still make the salads, or sometimes my older sisters.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

It was usually reserved for birthdays or other special occasions. It was almost always Chinese.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

There wasn't much entertaining, but for Christmas and things like that there was a kiddy table. I hated sitting there.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

17 or so.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

No.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No, but we did have some monotony. For example, we ate Apricot Chicken every week for about six months. Even the thought of that now makes me want to hurl.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Virtually none. I like to use fresh ingredients and cook across a multitude of cuisines. I actually enjoy cooking, most of the time and don't see it as a chore. I also like to cook with a lot of asian ingredients, either in fusion style or as they are intended.

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  • 2 months later...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Even after reading some responses, I don't know how to answer this question. My Dad is from Italy, my Mom is an American - she was also a professional chef - so meals were pretty diverse across cultures - but definitely focused on the Napoli region of Italy for dinners. We also lived in Geneva at some point, then Paris, and I went a way to prep school for high school. What it did entail would be best categorized as a "European" way of eating. Forks and knives in hand and all. The whole knife/fork dance is mesmerizing and foreign to me. We ate starters, mains and desserts every night as a family at the table. The TV was never involved. I didn't know Kraft mac & cheese or pre-packaged TV dinners existed till I got older.

Was meal time important?

Incredibly. Dad came home at 7 and we always had dinner at 7:30 or 8. Even when I was a tot. The family always sat together through a leisurely dinner.

Was cooking important?

Insanely so. Even when my Mom started her catering business, cooking for the family was still her top priority. When I got into my later grammar school years, we would "pic-nic" every once in a blue moon - ordering take out and camping out in front of the TV - but that was always a special treat.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Mom sat to my left and would smack my elbows out from under me if they were on the table. After you fall in your soup 2 or 3 times you brighten up a little.

Who cooked in the family?

Mom cooked all the time. We weren't very big on breakfast though - a trend that carries on till this day. Mom had tea and I had Ovaltine. I don't think Dad ate breakfast either - just cappuccino. Dad didn't cook, but he brought my Mom tea in bed every morning. I think he also grilled in the summer - during BBQs.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

Restaurant meals were pretty common. When I was younger, we would meet dad for lunch in the city at some fabulous restaurant or another. I regularly went out to dinner with Mom and Dad. If I got tired, Dad would just lay his jacket on the floor for me by the table and I would go to sleep. We also traveled all over together; thus eating in restaurants pretty consistently.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

No way. How else do children learn how to behave if they're not sat with the adults?

When did you get that first sip of wine?

4? 5? Wine was always served with dinner. When I was very little, I had a tiny little wine glass filled with a thimble of wine that was then diluted with water. I'm pretty sure my paternal grandfather put coke in with my red wine when I was smaller.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Nope. Well, I take that back. We are Jewish, so on Shabbat etc we would light candles, bless wine, bread....

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

No. Dad would call home everyday around 3 and tell Mom what he had for lunch. He'd also ask what was fresh in the market. Then Mom would be able to devise the menu for dinner. Did dad have fish for lunch? Then we wouldn't have it for dinner. It was like having a personal chef. Lucky bastard.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Like my Mom, I don't like to eat in front of the TV, and I think meal times should be family time. I cook everything from scratch just like she did, and I don't really like to bake either - trend Mr. g is trying to change. I also try not to use frozen anything and try to cook using seasonal ingredients. Additionally, I got her obsession with hormone-free, free range meat and organic veggies. However, unlike my Mom, I give into my urges for take-out Chinese, delivery pizza, and eating them in front of the boob-tube during football games.

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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  • 2 months later...

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

Stereotypical British food meets American convenience, with an overlay of Jewish culture and food (but not religion): casseroles, carbonized roasts, corned beef, baked fish and chicken, Shepherd’s pie, tinned sardines, kippered herring, spaghetti and meat sauce, Hamburger Helper, Shake-N-Bake, Rice-A-Roni, mushy veggies. Turkey, stuffing, and cranberries for the holidays. Over time, meals evolved to include beef Stroganoff, stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, curries, artichokes, and steamed veggies.

We always had salad on the table, and Dad grew wonderful tomatoes and cucumbers in the garden. He also brought home a dozen still-warm bagels from Bernstein’s Bakery most weekends. Lumpy Cream of Wheat was a special breakfast treat –who knew there was a smooth version, too? :biggrin:

During dinner, Dad loved to discuss and debate politics, philosophy, religion, history, economics, and structural engineering. At eight, I knew more about modulus of elasticity than most adults. Through these discussions, I developed a love of learning and a keen interest in honing understanding through dispassionate debate. Debate (“arguing”) drives my wife crazy, unfortunately. Oh, well, our pre-teenaged boys are quite willing to debate. :rolleyes:

As a teenager, I discovered garlic, chilies, spices, and good coffee. Mom has an extremely sensitive nose, and perhaps because of this avoided raw garlic. When I started adding freshly minced garlic to frozen pizzas, she always asked for “just a taste”. This became a running joke, because her “taste” slowly expanded until it was just shy of a full slice. She always left a sliver of a slice no matter how many times I offered her more.

Was meal time important?

Dinner took place when Dad came home from work (one of his very few rules, along with “no bickering”). All three children were active in sports and other activities, so we rarely ate together during the week. We grabbed food before or after swim practice (sometimes before and after - we burned up lots of calories). When we were older and Mom went back to work, she cooked ahead on the weekends so there was always prepared food in the refrigerator.

Eating in shifts was partly logistics, partly family culture. Dad grew up in an orphanage and Mom spent a lot of time in British boarding schools, so they did not have a tradition of family meals. Perhaps more significantly, one of the strengths of our family is respect for each other’s independence. This also drives my wife crazy.

For no particular reason, this reminds me of lazy summer evenings as a young child. Our suburban neighborhood was loaded with kids. If we weren’t at the neighborhood pool, we were catching salamanders at the creek, making firefly lanterns, or organizing neighborhood-wide games of hide-and-go-seek. I have no idea how we knew when to come home for dinner. No one had a watch, we just knew. :hmmm:

Was cooking important?

Not so much. When we were younger, Mom cooked more for sustenance than for pleasure. Over time, she developed a pretty respectable (if under-spiced) repertoire. One of my happiest childhood culinary memories is when Mom decided to make a chocolate mousse for some momentous but long-forgotten occasion. We spent a heavenly couple of weeks “evaluating” Mom’s chocolate mousse variations.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

Mom made gentle attempts to civilize us. Before eating at a friend’s house, we were invariably admonished, “Remember to put your knife and fork together when you are finished eating.” Dad usually undermined these efforts, pointing out that the Queen was unlikely to show up for dinner. This became a running joke in the family – we would carefully check for the Royal Presence before putting our elbows on the table.

Interestingly, both parents objected to the “boardinghouse reach”, presumably a relic of institutional childhoods. Licking the plate (“like a doggie”) was discouraged. :wink:

Who cooked in the family?

Mom cooked exclusively when we were younger. Dad had a couple of bachelor meals, including his post-holiday stew of turkey, stuffing, and Worcestershire sauce. My sister baked bread for a while :wub: We cooked for ourselves when we got older, especially on the weekends and during summer vacation.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions?

Restaurants were for special occasions like birthdays. The birthday boy or girl was allowed to choose the restaurant. Dad always lobbied for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and was always outvoted. The rest of us preferred the amazing and inexpensive array of international foods available nearby.

We began with Chinese restaurants, then moved on to Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Lebanese, Greek, Jamaican, Mexican, Cuban, Salvadoran, and Ethiopian restaurants as waves of immigration enriched local dining opportunities. As we started earning our own money (cutting lawns or working at the neighborhood pool), we ate out frequently with friends. As an example of the cheap bounty available, $5 at Jamaica Joe’s would buy two spicy meat patties (with Pickapeppa and Jamaican Hellfire sauce), a bottle of nose-hair-curling ginger beer, dense sweet potato pie, and all the reggae videos you could watch (plus an occasional chorus by the wait staff). We celebrated my college graduation with palak paneer at an Indian vegetarian restaurant.

Many special meals were in non-restaurant settings. Crab feasts, cookouts, and pot lucks would enliven holidays and mark the passing of summer. Many pot lucks featured an incredible array of international dishes (no green bean casserole, though). :biggrin:

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Nope, no kiddy table. No relatives lived nearby, so no huge holiday meals. My parents were dedicated homebodies and rarely hosted large gatherings. This sounds much more antisocial than it was, however. Our friends were always welcome for lunch or dinner, and some spent more time at our house than at their own.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

My parents drank one glass of Taylor’s New York State sherry every Sunday night. I probably asked for a taste when I was about eight, found it exceedingly unpleasant, and didn’t ask again until I discovered beer as a teenager.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Nope.

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza every Sunday night. Urg.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Our present-day family culture probably reflects my wife’s family more than mine. She grew up on a farm and believes strongly in eating dinner together. To the maximum extent possible, we adjust our dinnertime around the boys’ after-school activities. Sometimes this means eating dinner shortly before bedtime, but we rarely miss sitting down to eat as a family.

We both cook, and we love to entertain for small groups of friends. The type of food that we eat reflects my love of strong flavors. Elder son is becoming a more adventurous eater and has begun experimenting with table sauces besides ketchup. Younger son checks out cookbooks from the elementary school library, loves making cookies, and is getting pretty good at scrambled eggs.

Our boys are from Russia, so we make a few Russian comfort foods for them. They will eat unlimited quantities of borscht, beef Stroganoff, pickles, cucumbers, and beets. They adore meals with our Russian friends, especially if a visiting baba makes blini, Russian salad, or pastry-wrapped meat patties (sorry, I don’t know the Russian name). By the way, I know what Ivan (op) means about Russian bread. We had some amazing baked goods during our trips to Russia.

Tolliver, thanks for bumping this thread. It has been fascinating and touching reading. Apologies for the length, but I appreciate the memory-jog.

Bruce

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What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

All six of us at the table every evening, no TV or radio. Dinner was at 6, come hell or high water. Meat, a veggie and potatoes. Usually plain boiled taters, you put the butter (really margarine--the real butter was for Daddy) on yourself. Broccoli boiled to a grey sludge.

We bought a side of beef every year from Uncle Rudy, so beef was a big part of meals.

Was meal time important?

Yep--everyone was expected to be there, and you had to eat a spoonful of everything, even if you didn't like it. Mom finally gave up on liver--kids got hotdogs instead.

Was cooking important?

For my Mom, I think it was a chore--I think she heard "yuck, I hate that stuff" too many times from too many kids.

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

I don't remember that, but you did have to chew with your mouth closed, and no singing at the table. (Why no singing? Dunno.)

Who cooked in the family?

I remember my Dad cooking in the kitchen once--when my Mom was in the hospital having my little sister. He did the grilling. I started doing dinner at 12, when my Mom when to work.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

Every Friday night, we all loaded in the Chevy and went to McDonalds--this was back in the while tile, order outside at the window, eat in the car days of Mickey D's. When we were done, we did the weekly grocery shopping--Mom, Dad, and all 3 or 4 kids. Other than that, restaurant meals were few and far between.

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

I remember kiddy tables at grandparents, but we hardly ever had big dinners at our house.

When did you get that first sip of wine?

I was young, and it was Mogen David. Why? I dunno--we were Lutheran.

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

Every night--"come Lord Jesus".

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)? Nope.

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

Well, my family is grown and gone, but some things were similar. Dinner together every night. Meat, veg and starch at each meal.

My kids got a little more freedom on what they had to eat--no force feeding, no "if you don't eat that you have to go to bed".

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sparrowgrass
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Love everyone's answers by the way...very interesting so far

What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

My mother is Korean and my father is american born from Maryland. My little sister and I ate more Korean food than american growing up. My grandmother (on my father's side) lives close to a large population of Amish and Mennonites so we ate some Pennsylvainia Dutch food as well.

Was meal time important?

Very, we always ate dinner together as a family. Eating meals with my family always evokes fond memories.

Was cooking important?

Yes, there was always a home cooked meal on the table. My mother's food was a way of preserving her culture and introducing it to the rest of the family

What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

How the heck can I put my elbow on the table when every 10 seconds I am reaching over for veggies and meat with my chopsticks!! Seriously though, my mother was into good table manners but those have since vanished.

Who cooked in the family?

Always my mother. Even when I visit my parents on occasion my mother does all the cooking.

Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

We only went to Korean restaurants and that was really rare, like once every few months

Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

Yes, they made me sit there until I was 16

When did you get that first sip of wine?

don't know, but I had my first sip of beer when I was 8 and I loved it (still do).

Was there a pre-meal prayer?

"rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub"

Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

yeah, leftovers every day :wink:

How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

I have a boyfriend and he HATES Korean food!!!! He also hates anything that comes out of the ocean. So, how much of my family culture is being replicated in my present-day '' family life '' ? NONE. Only I eat Korean food and if I eat it, I have to eat it before he comes home because he says my food is stinky.

Any single men out there who like Korean food/seafood?

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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