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What’s Cooking?

What’s Cooking?

March 24, 2021

I love to hear and read about the foods that my relatives and ancestors ate. Often their memories involve doing without things we take for granted. When I read or hear those stories, I realize how fortunate I have been. My mother-in-law told me about how she ate grape jelly sandwiches every day during the Great Depression because her family grew grapes and that is all they had. Another ancestor wrote in his personal history about how times were hard for his family. He wrote of eating head cheese (it’s not really a cheese) and salt-rising bread (it’s not full of salt).

Our ancestors were thrifty and made use of everything they had. Oral histories, personal histories, and even family or community cookbooks, are a great way to share our own food stories. The Midwest Genealogy Center has resources that can help you with writing or recording your stories. Find helpful information about oral histories on MGC’s website, including sample questions, and record your stories at home with an MGC Tell Me a Story kit. If you need help Stirring Up History, check out this book to get ideas for a cookbook.

We have strong family memories related to food. Maybe it is because we spent a lot of time eating together, or maybe it is because certain foods remind us of holidays or other special events. One thing I know for sure is that we have lots of stories about the foods we dislike. The food I hated the most as a kid was Brussels sprouts.

My mom used to boil them and serve them plain. I had to cut them up and swallow them like pills because my mom told me I had to eat everything on my plate. One time I refused, so my mom told me I would have to eat them for breakfast. We were both stubborn, so my mom brought it out at breakfast, and I ate a little bite before she let me eat something else. I haven’t eaten Brussels sprouts as an adult even though my kids assure me that they know how to make them tasty.

What was your worst family meal growing up?

Jolene C.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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