Tag Archives: cooking

Pre-Thanksgiving Festival/Tradition

“A tradition that my family had is called Pie Day, and it’s not 3-14 but instead the day before thanksgiving. It’s essentially a party where friends and family come together and make pies for thanksgiving, everyone is in the kitchen. Before we moved to Washington my grandma would always have pie day at her house and that is the one time of year that I would see the most extended of extended family. There are lots of wine snacks and cooking. In Washington it was much more my parents’ friends and a couple cousins and such, and the night ends with everyone gathering on the couch and sitting down for a show or movie.”

The informant performs this tradition every year the day before Thanksgiving, typically held at her parents house in Olympia, Washington, USA. Depending on the year, different people may arrive to participate in this tradition. The informant’s immediate family, her parents’ friend group, her dad’s work friends, herself and her siblings, who invite a couple of their friends, and then some extended family are all potential participants, depending who is in town. Every person who comes can bring a dish they would like to make for the next day, but most people just come to socialize and decompress before the busy Thanksgiving day. The informant is not sure when it started, but her family started preparing the pies for Thanksgiving in the days before and as the years went on, more and more people were invited to participate in preparing food prior to the actual holiday.

The tradition demonstrates a culture that values food and socialization, as nearly all cultures do. Cooking together is a common way to build bonds between people, especially family and close friends. It is a sort of unofficial folk festival for just the small group of people involved, taking place the day before a bigger holiday. This is relatively common as people prepare for holidays. There are group cooking days for food-centered holidays, group shopping excursions for the winter holidays that involve gift giving, and group decorating days before decoration-centered holidays like Dia de Los Muertos or Christmas. It is a way to mount the excitement for the holiday as well as extend the celebration.

Christmas Raviolis


“At Christmas, we make homemade raviolis. When I was growing up, my grandmother [made homemade raviolis] most of the time, and then when you kids were younger, Nonni (the informant’s mother) did it a number of years, and now we do it.”

Minor Genre: 

Holiday Ritual; Food Traditions


“My dad has a funny story about the first time he had dinner with my mom’s Italian family. In the Italian meals, they would serve raviolis almost as an appetizer. My dad filled up on the raviolis and then there were still like four more courses of dinner to come.

“I never made [the raviolis], I just ate them. My grandmother made them and I didn’t really pitch in as a kid. It wasn’t until Nonni started making them with you kids that I helped. We would have raviolis throughout the year but really the ritual of making them was saved for Christmas.”


I have memories of making raviolis with my grandmother, Nonni, every Christmas growing up. It was a process that involved the whole family: we first made the pasta dough using an old recipe from the informant’s grandmother (my great-grandmother); then we rolled out the pasta into thin strips using a pasta-roller attachment to the kitchen table; then we used ravioli dishes to place the dough, add in the filling, and press the food into ravioli shapes.

Ravioli originated in Italy and is a type of pasta dish containing filling typically composed of meat or cheese. Nonni’s side of the family immigrated from Italy from the regions of Tuscany and Campania. Although the filling of our family’s ravioli is likely an Americanized version of the Italian original, we reference an old hand-written recipe for the pasta that could reasonably be believed to have been brought over by Nonni’s Italian ancestors.

The ritual of making raviolis each Christmas is a way to honor our family’s Italian heritage while simultaneously engaging in a community-building activity that will ultimately be enjoyed by every member of the family at dinner.

Tulu Proverb for Cooking

Tags: Proverb, India, Cooking, Tulu Language


“Uppoo, Pulley, Moonchi”

“Salt, Sour, Chili”

Informant Info

Race/Ethnicity: Indian

Age: 22

Occupation: College Student

Residence: Northwest Arkansas, USA

Date of Performance: February 2024

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

Relationship: Friend


AH, the informant, is of Indian descent. Her father practices Hinduism and speaks Tulu. He has been a very influential figure in her upbringing.


This rule of thumb is used for cooking. To have a perfect dish, in the informants words, one must add a “little bit of salt, a little bit of sour, and a little bit of chili.” This is a proverb used in Indian cuisine, inspired by their history of being one of the top spice producers/traders in the world, helping them to inspire recipes that leave a wonderful taste of culture in our mouths.

A side note, as I was doing research on this proverb, I could not find anything. After consulting with the informant, she informed me that “Tulu is mostly spoken.” An interesting fact that I found out after this conversation was that the Tulu language (with speakers concentrated in the Indian state of Karnataka) is best known for its oral traditions.

“I put my foot in it”

Text: I put my foot in it.

Context: My informant, an African American female from Texas, heard this metaphor from her father after he made a peach cobbler that he considered outstanding. In simple terms, the phrase means to have put in effort and have greatly succeeded, similar to saying “I crushed it.” My informant remembers this phrase in particular because she was so confused by it initially, having taken it literally, but ultimately found it comical following her father’s explanation of the phrase. Since then, she has used the phrase in the same context her father would: following an earned achievement. 

Analysis: Hearing my informant’s explanation of this song surprised me, as, in my experience, to put one’s foot into something is typically a negative situation having to do with embarrassment or blunders. However, obviously, in folklore, the same phrase can have any number of meanings depending on contextual elements, including but not limited to location, race, and time period. I speculate that her father’s use of the term stems from the pride associated with his identities as a male, a Texan, and a minority, in which, broadly speaking, what you have is what you earn. Along these lines, the term “I put my foot in it” harkens to the labor involved in creating something good, specifically acknowledging the intentional and personal effort he has put into the creation process.  

North German Canning Superstition


HH is a retired former housewife who lives in Westergellersen, a small village in northern Germany.

Main Piece:

“Frauen sollten kein Gemüse einkochen wenn sie ihre Regel haben. Die Gläser werden dann nicht richtig schließen.”


Women shouldn’t be canning any vegetables while they’re on their period. If they do, the jars won’t close right.


There are many superstitions about the female menstrual cycle, many delineating the things women should and shouldn’t do while they are actively menstruating. The informant does not recall any further logic behind the superstition, only that the jars won’t seal correctly. Given that canning is largely seen as women’s work, and that having a good seal on the jars is vitally important for the long-term preservation of the food, it does seem reasonable that a superstition around women’s bodies would be connected to this important facet of women’s work.

Given that this is a superstition, and therefore a magical folk belief, this belief would fall under the umbrella of Sympathetic Magic, specifically Homeopathic. My interpretation of the metaphor involved in this magical belief is that if the woman canning is menstruating, her body is momentarily shedding bodily substances and fluids, rather than how she is ‘sealed’ during the rest of her cycle. So, a woman must be ‘sealed’ herself while canning, otherwise the ‘unsealed’ trait of her body would metaphorically translate to the jar, not letting it properly seal.