USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘potluck’
Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Corned Beef & Cabbage at Silver Lake Potluck for St. Pat’s day

Folk Tradition:

We of course to corned beef and cabbage but that ain’t too original for St. Pats. We do open house pot-lucks at our house every year. A tradition my dad’s family did back on Long Island was basically where the party goes on all day and anyone can just walk in and out. But by the end of the night at my house it really looks like the boys in my family drank too much Jameson, stumbling over just about everything as we sing to The Dubliners.

Background:

“So, yeah, my dad taught me how to marinate the corned beef and my mom taught me how to add vinegar to the cabbage so it don’t taste like old laundry.…both my parents are third generation in America and all the stories I know of my great great grandparents are of them coming from Ireland. I know we’re not entirely Irish but that’s the majority of it. Specifically, my moms side is from the county Clare. And then I’m not sure who taught them, but I would venture to say it was my grandpa on my moms side and some uncle/aunt on my dads side.”

The informant is 21 and grew up in Los Angeles.

My Analysis:

I think the open-door policy on the family pot luck stemming from his dad’s family in Long Island could speak to the prevalent Irish community on Long Island. Many Irish immigrants settled in pockets there, so it would make sense to keep your door open for your neighbors who are also celebrating the holiday.

For another mention of the Irish St. Patrick’s day corned beef and cabbage tradition see: Henri, Kirsten. “St. Patrick’s Day.” Philadelphia Weekly 16 Mar. 2005: 46. Web.

 

Customs
Foodways
general

Poi

My informant was born and raised in Hawaii. He talked about a particularly special food that is important in Hawaii, and then talked about how it is linked to Hawaiian culture in general:

“So poi is a very important food to the ancient Hawaiian culture. And supposedly the poi plant—the taro plant—came from the son of the main god, which is probably the sun god I believe, named Wakea. And so, supposedly when the ancient Hawaiians ate poi, it was kind of a family affair. The males were the ones to pound it and prepare it. It’s pounded out… basically you have to turn it into a paste. So you take the taro root, which is  kind of starchy, kind of like a potato. You just pound it out into a paste and add a little bit of water to it so you get the right consistency. And poi was a sacred food so nobody could be like, angry around the table when you ate poi, so it brought families together. And the way you ate poi was to take your index finger and middle fingers and dip them into the first joint of the poi bowl, and everyone would dip their fingers into the poi bowl and eat poi like that. And it was supposed to symbolize purity, or something like that, I’m not too sure. Personally, local Hawaiian culture is like… You won’t eat poi that often, it’s not quite continued specifically from ancient Hawaiian culture. So when you eat poi now, it’s generally not the same affair as it was during ancient Hawaiian days. So you’ll usually eat it with a Hawaiian meal with like, lomi lomi salmon or something like that. But it definitely hasn’t carried over with all of the same connotations to today. The production of it is dying out a bit, but some groups are trying to keep the ancient Hawaiian traditions alive. But normally now, if you get poi, you’ll just go to the supermarket and get a bag of poi. Personally, it’s kind of bland, so I don’t care for it that much, but I know people who definitely like it. I still eat it today at potlucks with my family. Generally, if people get together and have parties, we will just have potlucks as opposed to big luaus. Luaus are generally more festive for tourists who come down to have the Hawaiian experience. So anyway, the rule I was always brought up with was, ‘Bring more food than you ate.’ So we would get together and have potlucks after baseball games on Saturdays. So Saturdays would always have a giant assortment of food placed out from all different families, often including poi. But yeah, local Hawaiian culture is different from ancient Hawaiian culture. Generally Hawaiian people are kind of known to be really friendly and stuff, and to a large extent, I find that to be true. A lot of Hawaii people are generally chill. But it’s definitely not the culture you see like, on postcards.”

My informant describes how poi inherently carries a great deal of significance. There are special guidelines for how it is supposed to be prepared and eaten. These customs all promote a pleasant experience; there is no room for negativity around the table where poi is served. Eating poi is supposed to involve family and friends, so it brings people together. As my informant explained, the traditions surrounding poi are more formal when it is presented to tourists during a luau than when it is served at local potlucks. He talked about the differences between stereotypes about Hawaiians and what he actually thinks is true about locals; he agrees that locals have a positive vibe, but they don’t live life like postcards. Even so, they still make efforts to carry on some traditions, like eating poi. Although the poi itself may not be particularly tasty to my informant, he still appreciates its historical and cultural significance. He thinks that traditions like eating poi with each other help foster the kind of “chill,” positive, relaxed mindset that local Hawaiians have.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

California Agricultural Festivals

My informant is originally from Santa Rosa, CA, where she grew up with some small town community ideals and in particular, festivals and annual gatherings.

She noted that there were three festivals that everyone she knew always attended, and that if you didn’t attend, it was questioned why. They were family events, and when one got older they would spend the evenings at the events with their friends.

The first festival was the Gravenstein Apple Festival in Padalum, CA. It usually took place in August, and my informant went every year with her family, just like her father had gone every year when he was younger. There were a variety of arts and crafts and apple oriented foods there at the festival. The biggest event was the pie contest, however. This event was possible because of the abundance of apples in the region, so my informant has told me. It was also used to promote local businesses as they would often donate gift baskets to give away at the event as a means to get exposure for their products. She also remembers other farm-like activities like an animal petting zoo and craft booths.

The second festival was the Sonoma County Fair  (in Santa Rosa Fair grounds).  It was the other event that you went to if you grew up in Santa Rosa. This was the presentation/competition of the animals. Kids could also enter ‘art projects.’ My informant listed cross stitch as an art project specifically. Schools promoted this festival because they passed out entry forms to the students in schools, a component that is different with contemporary folklore, using the school to promote traditional festivals.

The last annual event that my informant said she always attended was a 4th of July potluck picnic held in her court, which all of the residents would block off for the day. It would be a big potluck barbecue. Kids would ride their bikes around the court. They would have games like egg toss and water balloons for kids. When it started to get dark everyone had fireworks and everyone would set them off. The entire event lasted for about 12 hours. She noted that  the people involved with these events had usually lived in the area for a prolonged period of time and there was a real sense of community at all of the festivals.

[geolocation]