Author Archives: Matthew Guichard

Recipe – Jewish

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Houston, TX
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Jewish Recipe

Latkes

2 large Idaho potatoes, 1 small onion; 1 small egg; 3 tbsp all-purpose flour; 1/2 tsp. salt;  oil or shortening 1/4″ deep in frying pan.

Peel the potatoes and shred them into a bowl of cold water. Drain and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Grate the onion into the potatoes; stir in egg, flour, and salt.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Drop the potato mixture into the frying pan from a large spoon, shaping pancakes 3 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Fry slowly until golden brown, then turn over and fry slowly on the other side. Drain. Serve hot with sour cream or hot applesauce.

Every Hanukah, my family cooks Latkes every night. While we do eat it on other holidays and special occasions, we eat Latkes (they’re fried) on Hanukah because it celebrates the miracle of oil in the Second Temple of Israel .

Collectors Analysis: Potatoe Pankes, or Latkes, are a classic Jewish dish that are commonplace at the dinner table during Hanukah and other special holidays. Latkes could be considered a variant of hash browns; both dishes are similar in texture and taste. Because there is no original cook, and Latkes taste slightly different from house to house. For example, Sam Freedman generally eats Latkes with applesauce, while my grandfather, Albert Schutzer eats his with sour cream.

Recipe – Jewish

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish
Age: 85
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Laguna, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 23, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Jewish Recipe

Stuffed cabbage rolls (Halishkes)

1 large head cabbage; onion; 2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce; 2 sauce cans water; 1 1/2 lbs chopped chuck; 1 onion, chopped; 3/4 cup raw rice; 1 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp pepper; 1/2 cup water; 3 tbsp lemon juice; 1 package (12 oz. ) pitted prunes; 3 tbsp brown sugar

Carefully remove 12 large leaves from a head of cabbage. Slice away some of the thickest part of the center rib to make the leaves uniformly thin. Pour boiling water over the leaves and let them stand until they are flexible and bend easily. Shred the rest of the cabbage finely. Heat a heavy frying pan. Brown a sliced onion in a little canola or olive oil. Add the shredded cabbage and cook together while you prepare the cabbage rolls. Mix the chuck, onion, rice, salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of water. Put a heaping  tbsp of meat on each softened cabbage leaf.  Roll up, tucking in the sides. Secure with thread or tuck in the end. Lay the rolls in the pan, seam side down. Cover and cook about 1 1/2 hours. Check and add a little water, if necessary, to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, sugar and prunes and cook about 1/2 hour longer. Taste the gravy and add salt and pepper to taste. Halishkes taste even better the next day. Cover and bake in a moderate oven until thoroughly hot. 6 servings.

Performer’s Analysis: As a kid growing up in Brooklyn. It should be stressed that at the turn ot eh century it was expected that immigrants assimilated into society rather than retain their culture of their homeland. Both my parents attended elocution school so they would speak English without accents.

We used to eat Halishkes on a regular basis, and they were not associated with any particular holiday. Interestingly, my wife Cynthia and her family would eat Halishkes as a house-hold meal as well, so it seems to be a fairly common food among Jewish-Americans.

Collector’s analysis: Like the Latkes, Halishkes, or stuffed cabbage rolls, are common dish at the dinner table. My grandfather, Albert Schutzer, and his wife Cynthia both grew up in the New York are, but both of their families came from different countries in Europe. Despite their difference in origins, Albert and Cynthia both group with their parents preparing Halishkes for certain dinner occasions.

I thought it was interesting that my grandparents’ parents, who were not native to the United States, made an effort to assimilate into American society by taking elocution lessons and almost forgetting their home country. However, they did manage to retain some of their heritage; in this case it was the original Jewish recipes like Haliskes.

Joke

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewsih
Age: 85
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Laguna, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 23, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Joke, WII Military

Joke and Performers Analysis: I would start the joke by telling them I had a friend who had flown a bomber in the General Doolittle raid on Tokyo. They flew two engine bombers from the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. And they didn’t know, after bombing Tokyo, how far the gas they would have left would take them and who would be on he ground when they landed.

Hoping he would be met by friendly natives, my friend had an American flag tattooed on his chest before taking off. Well, they bombed Tokyo and then flew on. When they ran out of gas, my friend parachuted from the plane and landed in a rice paddy. There was a woman in a kimono at the far end of the paddy, and she now walked towards him.

When she reached him, my friend unzipped his flight jacket , pulled his shirt open, and exposed the flag on his chest. “American,” he said.

The woman pulled her kimono open. She was wearing nothing underneath. “Nip on nese,” she said. End of joke.

The joke was current at the time, and I told it with my wife Cynthia at a dinner party. We were in our late 20s, and I insisted I tell the joke before they go. The joke was common at the time, and I learned it from someone in they military after the war finished up.

Collector’s Analysis: During lecture this semester, we covered jokes, in particular disaster jokes. We discussed “Making a Big Apple Crumble” a book containing jokes about September 11th 2001. We also discussed that the Kennedy Assasitnation was one of the first instances where are disaster or tragedy became socially acceptable to poke fun at an event. However, this seems not to be the case with Albert Schutzer’s joke about World War II. While this joke regarding the Japanese would have been offensive during World War II, there came a time where joking about World War II became socially acceptable.

Conversation about disaster jokes raises the question when it is OK to start making fun tragedy. Often times it is found that a disaster joke becomes funny well before the risible moment is identified and accepted. In addition, this joke, especially for younger generations, would not be considered funny. Thus, the joke is somewhat outdated and socially irrelevant because less and less people were alive to understand the context of the joke and why it is humorous.

Insult

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish
Age: 85
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Laguna, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 23, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Insult-WWII Military

Insult: “You’re lower than whale shit, and whale shit is the lowest thing in the world because it lies at the bottom of the ocean.”

Performer’s Analysis: When the southern boys came into the Army in World War II they brought a lot of new expressions with them, colorful phrases and images that those of us who came from other parts of the country had never heard before. In a way they were poets, and they enriched our language. For example, when they wanted to put somebody down, they would say, “You’re lower than whale shit, and whale shit is the lowest thing in the world because it lies at the bottom of the ocean.”  How’s that for a putdown?

Collector’s Analysis: Albert Schutzer is from the Northeast, so when he was sent to train in Oklahoma all of his fellow comrades were Southern. While he thought this joke was unique to the South, it clearly could have come from any region.

As far as its variation or multiplicity, Mr. Schutzer feels it was a joke concentrated in the south. Because of its relative its hard to adapt the joke but other forms of this joke are possible. It would be easy to replace the whale with any other organism and attach a negative connotation to it. Often times we see that insults involve comparing a person to animals, possibly because as humans we view ourselves as “above animals” when in reality we are not.

Its important to note that jokes come and go with the times. Most jokes a based on blazon populaire most of the time, so when the culture changes the joke evolves as well. While I personally have never heard the “Whale shit” joke, I know of plenty insults involving feces or “shit” like “shithead” or “shitfaced”

Folk Speech

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish
Age: 85
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Laguna, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 23, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Expression, WWII Military

Expression: Did you get any poontangin?

Performers analysis: And then they had an expression for the sex act. I was never able to figure out what its derivation was–and I never cared to ask. Instead of saying something like “Did you get any sex?”,  they would ask, “Did you get any poontangin?” Now where in the world did that word come from?

Collector’s Analysis: The expression “Did you get any poontangin” which Mr. Schutzer says he discovered during his days in the army ironically still has relevance today. Its multiplicity can be seen in that rather than using “poontangin” many people use “poon” as a more modern term. As a college student, I hear the word “poon” tossed around the residence all quite frequently. In fact I have heard many students ask me “Did you get any poon?”, proving that the expression has adapted over time (thus creating a certain variation)

It’s interesting that “poontangin” was a term used in the military, considering it was comprised of mostly males. In its usage today, mostly males in the hall make reference to it.

Insult – Yiddish

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish
Age: 85
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Laguna, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 23, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Yiddish Insult

Schmuck—a loser, a dope, a fool.

Performer’s analysis: When I was in Germany (during World War II) I saw this word on a sign over a fancy retail establishment. I was stunned to learn that it meant “Jeweler” in German. Go figure.

Collector’s Analysis: Schmuck, which is Yiddish for loser, has entered American language and is widely used in the United States today. Schmuck entered the United States at the turn of the century with the arrival of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe who came over to fulfill the American Dream. Essentially, Schmuch has been borrowed and ultimately adopted by the English as an insult for someone who is an idiot or a fool.

It also should be noted that schmuck, though it is intended to mean idiot, is derived from the word penis (dick). The use of penis or dick as an insult in the United States is quite common. In the dorms, when someone refers to another person as a “dick”, it more often that not means that person is an idiot and stupid.

Tradition – Italian-American

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Italian-American
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 08, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Italian-American Tradition

Tradition: Although both sets of grandparents passed away while I was quite young, there are still a few traditions that I can remember.   A big family tradition was Sunday Church and dinner.  First we would go to our weekly Sunday Church service. Then it was on to a huge meal and usually the only meal of the day and was served around 1:00 pm.  Most of the family attended.  The women in the family gathered in the kitchen to help prepare the meal.  The meal began with an assortment of appetizers or “antipasto” – roasted peppers, olives, pepperoni, cheeses, ham, fresh bread and butter.   It was followed by a salad made of fresh lettuces, plum tomatoes, chick peas, red onion, and plenty of the best olive oil.  The main meal was, of course, spaghetti with meatballs, sausage and braccioli, (rolled and stuffed pork).  The sauce took hours to make because the secret of it was to slow cook it with all the meat added to it.  (I try and attempt the recipe later on).  The main course was not the end.  Desserts – pies, cookies, pastries, and baskets of fresh fruit and nuts (complete with nutcrackers) were set on the table and coffee was served.  The meal seemed lasted all day.  While the adults gathered around an extended table conversing, joking and laughing, the children were all gathered around a smaller table.  The idea was when you grew up, you could sit at the adult table too!  Older cousins had already made it to that table.

Performer’s Analysis: Back in the Northeast for Italian Americans, Sunday Church and dinner were very common. My husband Lou would even have a 7 course meal on Sundays! These dinners were hosted usually by 1st generation Italians, and as the family spread out, this tradition became more sparse.

Collector’s Analysis: This Italian-American tradition, which seems to be slowly dying as families disperse throughout the country, was common in the Northeast with large Italia-American families demonstrates tradition kept from Italy and even broader in Europe. Its important to note as well that weekly Sunday church and dinner fall under tradition rather than heritage because it is a mode of activity passed down from generation. Michele’s tradition does have some variation to it as well; her husband Lou used to eat a larger, 7-course meal on Sundays. Depending on where in Italy you are from, the meal is different and more or less expansive. In general, the farther north in Italy, the classier the meal.

Tradition – Italian-American

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Italian-American
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 08, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Italian American Tradition

Tradition and Performer’s Analysis: Wine was always a big part of any meal.  My paternal grandparents actually made their own red wine.  I never saw this actually happen but I did get to taste the results of their efforts.  My favorite of their traditions, however, was the jarred cherries that usually appeared around the holidays.  In the summer, fresh, pitted cherries were put into mason jars and covered with brandy.  The jars were sealed and stored in the basement for months.  These were the best cherries we ever tasted. We usually ate the cherries around the holidays and served them on ice cream and whatnot.

Collector’s Analysis: Like Sunday Dinner, Brandied Cherries fall under tradition because they represent a mode of activity and not so-called thoughts on tradition. It’s also important to stress the importance of retaining certain pastimes and activities from the country of emigration. Whether it be the Jews with certain recipes or Italians keeping traditions, there is a sentiment to respect the past.

Annotation: “Raised Italian-American: Stories, Values and Traditions from the Italian Neighborhood” by Joseph J. Bonocore

Tradition – Jewish

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish-American
Age: 55
Occupation:
Residence: San Marino, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 10, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Jewish Tradition

Jewish tradition to name a child with the first initial of a dearly departed relative; I named my two sons in this manner.

Matthew Jean-Paul (Myer, maternal, paternal great grandfather, Jean-Paul, paternal grandfather)

Jeffrey Lawrence (Jeanette, maternal, maternal great grandmother; Leonard, maternal, paternal uncle.

Collector’s Analysis: Before collecting this folklore, I had no idea that my name was based on this tradition. While my mother Leslie is not a practicing a Jew, she still continues to use some Jewish tradition. Once again, it highlights the difference between tradition and heritage. Leslie considers herself of Jewish heritage, yet she does not consider herself Jewish.

Recipe – Italian

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Italian-American
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 08, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Italian Recipe

Recipe and Performer’s Analysis: The Italian recipes in my family are rather rare too.  Recipes were never written down common among Italians. Recipes were always passed down by way of spoken word. Whenever I asked an Aunt or Uncle how to make something, I was always told it was just a pinch of this and a pinch of that.  They decided how much of an ingredient was necessary by tasting.   Watching relatives make something was the only thing you could go on.  But since as a child I spent many hours “trying to help” I actually did learn something and I could duplicate some of the recipes from Sunday dinner.  The main event of dinner was the spaghetti sauce and I could always tell a good sauce from a bad one.  The sauce had to start with fresh garlic, (sliced very thin) and sautéed in olive oil.  Plum tomatoes were added and squeezed to get out the juices and then chopped up.  They we added fresh oregano, fennel seed, basil, a bay leaf or two, and salt and pepper to taste.  It was slow cooked for hours to eliminate the acid from the tomatoes and they always added the meatballs, sausage, and braccioli to the sauce and let it all cook together to get the flavor.

Collector’s Analysis: This Italian recipe is interesting because it is unwritten, and spoken in contrast with the Jewish collections I collected that are very specific and orderly. This unwritten recipe is very typical of folklore, because it depends on the performers interpretation. When folklore is passed down through speech, it creates variation and multiplicity.

Annotation: “Raised Italian-American: Stories, Values and Traditions from the Italian Neighborhood” by Joseph J. Bonocore