5 Family Food Traditions Passed Down Through Generations
Every family has a favorite recipe. Try one of these recipes for dinner or make a dish you remember from your own childhood with your children.
Families can have the most unusual food traditions. Whether it's brinner—breakfast for dinner—before the first day of school or a meaty stew made after a long time away, food rituals make for great family fun. While the real original recipe for many such eats may be buried in family lore, the traditions remain. Here's how five families, including my own, make and eat their favorites.
Egg Rolls from the '80s
Back when most of the local moms were trying to master potato pie, my mom, Marsha Case, was trying her hand at egg rolls. My siblings and I were hooked, and soon could be found dragging tall chairs up to the kitchen island to help, heaping tablespoons of the meaty mixture into the center of a wonton wrapper, wetting the edges, and trying to form those perfect little bundles. "It was a great family thing," my mom told me. "You kids loved it, and we loved doing it with you." Now more than 30 years later, my brother Matt and his own teenage son continue the tradition—sometimes roping grandma in if she's around.Case Family Egg Rolls Recipe
Pierogis, Three Generations Off the Boat
A large contingent of immigrants from Poland found their way to Northern Michigan, up around the pinky, which may be why more than a few people cite one special potato- or cheese-filled dumpling as a family tradition.
"My great grandmother came over on a boat from Poland," says Kelly Watts King. "I make her pierogi 'recipe,' but it isn't really a measurable thing. It kind of goes.... 'remember that big green bowl we used to have? Fill that about half full with flour...and so on." Recently, King's daughter decided it was time to learn, because the making of the pierogis, and the sharing of them with extended family, is as important to her as it is to her mom.
*Note: These pierogis take about three to five hours to make, and about three to five minutes to disappear from family gatherings.
Chicken Stroganoff After a Long Summer Apart
Every year, Candace Riddle's now 13-year-old son Kade spends the summer with his grandparents in Ohio. Every time he returns home, the two make "chicken stroganoff" together, a recipe that was gifted to them by a friend when Kade was just a toddler. Since the time he was old enough to contribute, Kade has helped, too: If his mom is busy working, he dumps the noodles in and sets it for her return.Kade's Favorite Chicken Stroganoff Recipe
Red, White, and Blue Crepes
Filled with red raspberries, blueberries, and whipped cream, the Fourth of July crepe tradition started in Chad and Kelli Horner’s home when their daughter, Alison, was a toddler. It stuck and has extended to include grandparents and any friends who might be around as well. “It’s especially helpful because the Fourth always sneaks up on us, and I never have anything to decorate,” says Kelli Horner, “so the food becomes the color palette for the holiday.”Crepe Recipe
Viennese Cucumber Salad
The Gehrke family has numerous family food traditions. For example, Caryn’s grandma makes Christmas Eve chili “but we all know she doesn’t have a recipe," and on Saturday mornings her husband Marty makes pancakes topped with Caryn’s father’s homemade syrup while Caryn does a track workout. Then, there’s the Viennese cucumber salad handed down from Marty’s Austrian mother. It’s a recipe even the two oldest Gehrke boys, ages 9 and 7, can now make on their own.Gehrke Family Viennese Cucumber Salad Recipe
Try one of these family's recipes, or ask your relatives if they have any favorites of their own. It's never too late to start a new family recipe tradition that you can pass down to your kids and grandkids.