Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Your Typical Family Dish?
I am reading 97 Orchard Street for my book group and enjoying it quite a bit. It looks at five waves of immigrants (German, Irish, Eastern European Jews, Italians, that came to inhabit this address on the lower east side of New York (where the East Side Tenement Museum now sits). And it is worth a visit if you're nearby. (You can even take a virtual tour online).
And most especially, the books deals with their cuisine. Amazing how much work dishes that looked simple entailed from the recipes included.
I finally have a reason for the dull cuisine I was brought up on. The Irish truly had no foods to work with in inventing their cuisine. And once the potato famine hit, things got worse. My mother's maternal ancestors were Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh. The only spices or condiments really in our cupboard was salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg (for holidays). There might have been some garlic salt. Our typical dinner was a piece of meat, a potato and a frozen vegetable swimming in butter. Dessert, which we always had, was pudding or canned fruit.
Although my maternal grandfather was German, the only salute to that was sauerkraut on occasion.
My father's family was also German and what a treat it was to go to their house for a meal.
What was the typical meal from your childhood? And what ethnic group did it come from?