USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘recipe’
Folk medicine
Foodways
Holidays
Kinesthetic
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Nepali Winter Holiday Food

Background

Informant: S.S. - a current Senior in college in Indiana, originally from Nepal.

Context

S.S. entire family still resides in Nepal and he always felt very connected to his heritage through food and by cooking the traditional meals from his home country. The collector has personally enjoyed S.S. meals and has observed the performance of Nepali culture and heritage while cooking with S.S. When prompted about special holiday meals or dishes in Nepal, the informant shared this which I have transcribed below:

Main Piece

“So we eat something called Kwati which is like a soup/stew. And it’s made out of 9 different beans- black eyed peas, cow peas, black lentils, chickpeas, adzuki, fava beans, soybeans, Mung dal, green peas. They’re all soaked before and cooked for an hour and a half along with garlic and ginger paste. We usually add momos to the soup too which are Nepali dumplings. And you can eat this anytime, especially in winter because of its high protein value and health benefits but during the holiday of Gun Punhi (Goon Poon-he) we make it and it’s a delicacy too. We add a tempering oil to it after it’s done cooking, which is basically heated oil or ghee and you quickly fry ajwain (carom seeds) and pour the mix into the kwati. So in my family and Newari culture, when the soul is served, before eating we have to look at/for our reflection in the soup and then only we can begin to eat it. This is like a ritual significance to show that eating this cleanses your soul and also rids your body of negative energy but it’s also very healthy so a way to tackle the winter.

Thoughts

From my relationship with the informant, I have learned that food is incredibly important in Nepali culture and that Nepalese people feel very connected to the idea of the clarity and pureness of their soul through the food that they create and consume. Much of the food made in Nepali requires a deep understanding of the rituals of cooking, meaning that each step in the making of the dish is specific and has a purpose. For example, the washing of rice multiple times prior to boiling it, from S.S. telling, serves a dual purpose. One is obviously the practical need to wash the rise of dirt before preparing it, but also the idea that cleaning the rice is important for the body and how the body receives it. Often, there are very specific steps and timing involved in the preparation of the meal, adding things at certain times and this requires a very intricate knowledge of the culture and the meaning behind each step from a spiritual understanding.

Customs
Foodways
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Mufleta Recipe: Jewish Moroccan Passover Traditional Food

Recipe:

  • 3 cups flour (add more or less depending on desired texture)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup oil

1. Mix flour and salt, add water to the other mix. You’ll you get a dough consistency. Pour some oil on top of the dough cover. Let it stand.

2. On a baking sheet pour the measured oil. Make balls of the dough and place on the oil. Repeat and cover and let rest for about 15 minutes.

3. Dunk the dough balls in oil and stretch out the dough. While flattening out the balls, heat a large skillet.

4. Cook them like pancakes and stack upon one another and then roll in sweet sauce of your choosing.

 

Context:

“This is a traditional Jewish Moroccan food. Make this to break the fast for Passover and because it’s “chametz”. It’s a thing you’re not allowed to eat during Passover. It’s kind of like a crepe you eat it with butter or honey or chocolate. It’s a desert.”

Background:

The informant is Moroccan and Jewish, but grew up in LA. She said, “My mom makes it, she learned from grandma. Mom was born in Morocco and lived in Israel, but now lives in LA.” The informant is 20.

My Analysis:

Most families I know have one dessert that they love to make for breaking of the fast, usually it is an iteration of kugel, another starch-heavy meal. It makes sense that these recipes are so simple and consist of almost only flour because in Jewish tradition, you cannot eat flour leading up to passover. So, this is a sweet and delicious way to eat a lot of what you have been barred from eating for a period of time.

 

Folk medicine
Foodways

Papa Soup: Colombian Comfort Soup

Recipe:

  1. Long onions scallions
  2. Potatoes sliced in cubes
  3. Eggs
  4. Hot water

Boil potatoes add scallions mix eggs in add salt to taste.

Background:

“I learned this recipe from my grandmother. I was born in Colombia and raised by my grandmother there for the first several years of my life. She would make this for me when I was sick. It is also supposed to be a good hangover cure, but I was never hungover. I make it for my kids now whenever they are sick.”

The informant is 55, from Medellin, Colombia. She now resides in Southern California.

My Analysis:

This is a very simple recipe with nearly no instructions. It is easy to make, so easy that a sick person could probably cook it for themselves. The fact that my informant’s grandmother would make it for her and she now makes it for her family members when they get sick shows that the people who make this recipe value service. Even if it is not a grand gesture, this simple soup makes a meaningful gift to friends and family when they are ill.

Foodways
Holidays
Material

El Trancazo: a Familial Cake

Ingredients/Steps:

– preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius

– Have two pans ready

– 1 Kilo Butter

– 1 Kilo Granulated Sugar (slowly put into mixer while butter is whipping)

– 1 kilo flour

– Add 8 Eggs into Whipped Butter and Sugar

– 8 Egg yolks go into the same bowl

– Set aside the 8 egg whites which remain

– 2 cups of the original Kilo of flour go into Mixer

– For every cup of flour, add a tablespoon of baking powder through a sifter to the mixer

– 2 Oranges and their shavings

– Add a little bit of vanilla (eyeball it)

– Mix the rest of the flour with the juice from the oranges

– You’ll need 1 cup of warm milk; heat for 1 minute in microwave

– Mix the 8 egg whites from earlier with the milk and water

– put 2 Kilos of the batter into each pan

– Prepare topping while cake is in the oven

– put pot on stove with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and 5 tablespoons of Cacao (bring to a low boil)

– Soak cake part of cake in Bacardi Rum

– Spread what was on the stove onto the cake and spread apricot jelly as well :)

 

A.H. – “I’m the only person who has this recipe written down, it comes from my aunt in San Luis Potosi, and everyone knows about this cake because she always makes it for everyone’s birthday.  It’s literally a concoction of a bunch of stuff; because – her family didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and she didn’t want to have to borrow money from her family, or from anyone, so the recipe basically started when she just took scraps from around the kitchen and put it into the cake.  And it’s just a little bit of everything.”

“She calls it El Trancazo, which literally means like, “getting hit,” so it’s kinda just something that’s thrown together.  And the cake is massive.”

How long has she been making this cake for everyone’s birthday?

A.H. – “The first time she made it was for her first grandchild.”

When it’s someone’s birthday, and they’re in her presence, they know it’s coming?

A.H. – “Yes.  I only learned how to make this cake because I happened to be in Mexico at the time of my cousin’s birthday, and the cake was made.  It took like all day.  If you look at photos of different birthdays, the cake is always there.”

When you think of that cake, or the idea behind it, the fact that it is just thrown together, is it a source of pride?  Identity?  Reminders of your aunt?

A.H. – “I know so much about my aunt’s upbringing – and I know that it was really tragic, really sad, like – her life sucked growing up.  So it’s that idea of – or a sense of, how mothers are just idolized.  Put on a pedestal to the nth degree.  I think it reinforces that idea, that she did what she could with what she could.  My lack of resources isn’t gonna stop me from making my grandchild’s birthday any less memorable or special.”

That’s an idea for you to to live by as well then, that never give up attitude.  As well as just, being reminded of the strength of your great aunt, and maybe your own mother.

A.H. – “Yeah.  I guess.  I don’t think that much about the cake specifically, it’s just very telling to think of everything.  It’s a lot more than just a cake.”

 

It’s a lot more than just a cake.  Again, this cake, created by this person’s aunt, is itself a symbol for the strength and resolve of her family members, some of whom grew up during tough times.  It’s easy to see a theme here; many of these submissions bring to light a strong sense of identity – of solidarity with their family.  Attributes of resolve are what create the fondest of opinions in many people, and this cake reminds me of countless other examples of strength in family.  

 

Foodways
Material

Brownie Recipe

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9×13 baking pan

  1. Melt two sticks of unsalted butter and 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate together in a pan on the lowest heat.
  2. Combine 4 eggs and 2 cups of sugar in a big bowl by hand and add 1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  3. Pour the melted chocolate and butter mixture in with the sugar and eggs. Stir to combine.
  4. Slowly add 1 cup of flour s little bit at a time until you see no flour
  5. Pour batter in baking pan.

Bake 16 minutes at 350. Turn heat down to 325 and bake the rest of the way.

Cool and slice into squares

 

Context: The informant received this recipe orally from her mother. Her grandmother never let her mother in the kitchen when she was growing up, but it was the one thing she learned to bake. Everyone loved these brownies and wanted the recipe. It was the informant’s mother’s ‘go to’ when her parents had company.

Interpretation: This recipe is geared towards people who are not well-versed in the kitchen. It is an example of how recipes can empower people. Despite the informant’s mother’s lack of skill, she was able to impress the people around her and provide a delicious gift. This recipe also connects the informant to her mother, who is now deceased. By making this recipe, the informant is able to pass on her mother’s memory.

 

Foodways
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Recipe for Matzoh Brie

Ingredients:

– Matzoh bread

– Eggs

– Salt & Pepper

 

Steps

D.F. – “Some people do it differently, but my family – you start with one board of matzoh per egg, so – if you have two boards of matzah, that’s two eggs, and a bowl of warm water uh:

– First you need to crack the matzoh boards to reasonable sizes

– And then soak them in the water; wait until it’s, like, not super soft, but you could see some mush there.

– Then drain it from the water, make sure there’s no water left, and then:

– Go mix your eggs (usually while the matzah is soaking), put some salt and pepper in there

– And then, you pour the egg on top of the drained matzoh,

– Mix it within the drained matzoh, prep your stove,

– YOU CAN scramble it or have it pancake style, (my grandpa likes it pancake style, but I’m not about that life, I like it scrambled.

– You must wait for the matzah brie to fully cook.

– I hate it when the brie is like eggy and not cooked, it’s disgusting, so wait until it is fully cooked.

– When it’s done, serve it however, but make sure you have some good jam.  I’m a big blueberry jam person, but you do you.

 

This is a good way for this person, D.F., to get in touch with her own culture.  Her being Jewish has always been a huge part of her identity, and she externalizes that identity whenever she can.  If that means preparing this dish, along with others she likes, as often as she can, then that is how she portrays herself to the world.

I found this very interesting, because; while my family on my father’s side is jewish, I had never heard of this recipe before this person’s interview.  The ingredients in the dish remind me of my own family, and the times I spent with them during the holidays, but that combination of ‘foods’ was totally foreign to me.  So, n0w that I’ve heard about it, I feel almost as if I’m more encouraged to explore my own identity, and ask the people I’m close with how they portray themselves to others, including me.

 

Adulthood
Childhood
Foodways
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Holidays
Life cycle
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Mince and Tatties

Context:

I conducted this interview over the phone, the subject was born and raised in Scotland before moving to England, Canada, the United States, then to Northern Ireland, and, finally, back to the United States. I knew she continued to practice certain traditions which were heavily present in her childhood and wanted to ask her more about them.

 

Piece:

Subject: Every birthday in our house we always make mince and potatoes, or mince and tatties like we called them when I was a kid.

Interviewer: What does that consist of?

Subject: Well the way we do it is we ground beef, you know, mince beef, and then mashed potatoes and there you go! [Laughs] Sometimes we add vegetables like carrots or peas to go with it which really adds to the flavor.

Interviewer: And why has it become a birthday celebration?

Subject: I’m not sure, I mean we had it all the time growing up, but when we came to America we had it less and it became more of a birthday thing, so that’s just what we do every year now.

 

Analysis:

Upon further research, I’ve found that there is no set recipe or form of cooking this dish, it consists in many variations. There are concerns that British people are no longer eating traditional dishes, but mince and tatties remains the exception as it is extremely popular in Scotland. A survey done in 2009 found that it was the most popular Scottish dish, with a third of respondents saying that they eat it once a week.

In 2006 the European Union introduced new regulations on how meat could be processed, threatening the existence of mince and tatties, resulting in the Scottish National Party leader announcing, “They can take our lives but they will never take our freedom to make mince and tatties!”

It seems that it became a popular dish due to its ability to be canned and fed to a large number of school children.

Source:

Lewis, Susan. “Recipes for Reconnection: Older People’s Perspectives on the Mediating Role of Food in Contemporary Urban Society.” ANTHROPOLOGICAL NOTEBOOKS 12, 2006.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Family Christmas Recipe

While talking to my friend Clayton, I asked if he had any specific meals that he looked forward to on any holidays or occasions with his family. His response was about a meal that he has every year on Christmas eve.

Clayton elaborated on this and said that, “On Christmas every year we do something called the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ in Italy it is known as ‘The Vigil’. My grandparents came from Bologna, Italy. My grandparents home-make the seven seafood dishes every year and it is a similar recipe that their grandparents in Italy did every year on Christmas eve. It is one of my favorite meals, especially cause we only do this once a year, and this recipe has stayed similar across multiple generations”

 Background Info: Clayton is from Manhattan Beach, CA, but his grandparents are originally from Italy, and then moved to the states. Clayton knows of this traditional dish because he has been having this meal ever since he can remember on Christmas eve.

Context: Clayton told me about this tradition when I was talking to him before our class started, this was the first thing that he thought about when I asked him a question about if he had any traditional meals in his family.

Analysis: I had never heard about this type of meal, I have other friends who have roots in Italy and I asked them if they had heard of this and they said that they have. I guess it is a very common thing across many parts of central Italy. I think this is very interesting and reminded me of meals that I have on Hanukkah.

Foodways
Material

Panchamrutham Recipe

  1. The main piece: Panchamrutham Recipe

“I make panchamrutham for puja [Hindu prayer]. It’s a sacred offering for God. So panch means 5, amrutham means nectar [in Sanskrit]. Five different things put together to make this nectar. So you put cow’s milk, yogurt, sugar, honey, clarified butter or ghee, and this is supposed to be the sacred offering to God.

“It is made in a silver bowl. And, uh, this is supposed to be…how do they say? Theertham. God’s deity…you pour this panchamrutham over God’s deity, then pour it back into the silver bowl. Like you take a plate, put a small deity of God, then pour this panchamrutham. Then you pour it back in the bowl, and it becomes the…the sacred nectar for us. And you do it for special occasions. Special pujas. You don’t just do it every day. So for us, coconut water is sacred, and this is even more sacred.

“You have to take shower in the morning, and then make it. And usually, you don’t eat any meals before the puja. After the prayer, you have this panchamrutham first, before you break the fast.”

  1. Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Context of the performance?

“I learned it from my mother? Everyone does it for prayer.”

  1. Finally, your thoughts about the piece

This recipe requires very much attention to specific details, and the informant was keen on mentioning that it is not an everyday recipe—it is only for very special pujas, or Hindu prayer sessions. The high specificity of preparations for making Panchamrutham show how important it is in the Hindu religion—it literally symbolizes the nectar of God. All of the preparations, therefore, are symbolic attempts to purify oneself as much as possible before creating something that will come into contact with God. The name itself shows that Panchamrutham is not a fancy recipe found in a cookbook—it has been passed down for thousands of years, and is known for being composed of five simple materials that have been prevalent in Indian cooking for all those years.

  1. Informant Details

The informant is a middle-aged Indian-American female. She was born in India and grew up with her two sisters in a small town near a holy river in Andhra Pradesh, the Godavari River. After moving to the United States and raising her children there, she enjoyed reminiscing on her childhood in India and sharing stories of it with her children, so that they could see the differences in their upbringings and learn about their Indian heritage.

general

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

The informant is my film partner (referred to as MR) who has a Jewish mother and was raised Jewish. This is the recipe his Jewish grandmother has passed down for Matzo Ball Soup. He said his grandmother was living in Florida before she passed, despite having lived most of her life in New Jersey in a primarily Jewish community. He says, Matzo Ball Soup is a Jewish dish served at Passover.

Ingredients (taken down from a handwritten note in the recipe book):

  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup “schmaltz” rendered chicken fat or coconut oil
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice

MR: “While the recipe is written down, my grandmother has it memorized and tells me the directions by heart. I can’t make it by heart, but I know the directions she has told me several times while I watch her in the kitchen.”

The informant then looks at the recipe to remind himself of the steps.

MR: She told me to put the eggs, schmaltz, chicken stock, matzo, ginger, nutmeg, and parsley in a large bowl. And then add in the salt and Allspice. Mix a little with a spoon, and cover and then place in the refrigerator overnight.

I remember her holding up a deep brown pan and saying to put the matzo balls in a pan with salted water in order to boil. With wet hands— they have to be wet— take some of the mix and mold it into the size of a golf ball. Put them in boiling water and leave it for about 40 minutes. Then you put them in the soup, that’s it!”

I think this recipe is mainly interesting because it is recalled by heart by his grandmother. This shows how ingrained in the culture Matzo Ball Soup is. For his family and many Jewish families, Matzo Ball soup is a form of folklore in the sense that it is passed down through generations and verbally spoken and memorized. It is sacred in the sense that it commemorates a religious celebration (Passover).

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