The informant is an 18-year old college freshman at USC majoring in environmental studies and geology. She is of Irish and English descent, and when she is not at USC lives in Las Vegas with her parents and two siblings. I asked her about what her family does to celebrate Christmas. She said although her family is “not very religious,” they do have a Christmas ritual they do each year.
Informant: “I can tell you what I do for Christmas, I guess. So, we always, in the morning…Well, the night before we have to make a casserole. I know it sounds disgusting.
Interviewer: “What’s in the casserole?”
Informant: “I can ask my mom for the recipe.” [Recipe provided beneath interview.]
Interviewer: “Did she learn it from anyone, or was it a recipe from a book?”
Informant: “Both my parents learned it from their parents. We have to make the casserole the night before. And so then in the morning, we’ll wake up…so all the kids have to stay upstairs and we have this landing you can look over, but we aren’t allowed to look over it or go downstairs until my dad has his video camera and then he records us all coming down the stairs together. We go in a circle after our presents are sorted and one person opens and then the next, etc. We go through the whole thing until everyone is done, and one of my parents will put the egg casserole in. Once it’s ready, we eat that, and we just go and play with our presents. It’s so good, it’s like breakfast food, called egg casserole. It’s so good.”
2 pieces of bread (need to rip apart in small bite sized pieces)
1 pound of hot sausage
1 cup of mile
2 pinches of salt
2 pinches of pepper
Dry mustard (No exact amount, but around the same amount as the salt and pepper)
Brown the sausage. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Place in baking dish over night.
Next morning—preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes. It might need an extra 15 mins. Closer to one hour.”
My informant told me that it was a casserole passed down to her mom, as opposed to some other treat, because in Ireland—where her family is from (my informant described herself as “very Irish”)—they were very poor and as there was a lack of food, casseroles were something that could be thrown together using whatever they had. I thought it was super interesting that my informant perked up when she talked about he casserole and said multiple times how good it was. Food is fuel, but it is much more to people. There are emotional connections to food—memories of specific times or holidays or family members associated with certain foods—and that is passed down through families from one generation to the next is one example of this importance.