Tag Archives: family tradional foods



Quesadillas are a traditional Hispanic food that can be found in most Latin American countries and Latin American communities.  They are a flat-like food, wrapped in either flour or corn tortilla bread, and cooked with an abundance of extra ingredients, such as tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.  While meat is almost always used in the dish, the kind of meat used often varies.  Most often, either chicken or pork is used.

To make a quesadilla, first cook a slice of tortilla bread on a frying pan at low heat.  Only cook the tortilla bread until it’s warm to the touch and slightly golden.  After this, take the tortilla bread, and leave it to rest on a cutting board.  While it rests, take the frying pan, and use it to cook the meat that one plans on putting in their quesadilla.  It is important that one avoid shredding the meat used in the quesadilla until after it cooks.  While the meat cooks, dice up the food that one plans on using in their tortilla.  While the food varies, traditionally, sour cream, cheese, and salsa or guacamole are used in a quesadilla.  Spicy foods can be used as well, such as peppers, but are not used as often for quesadillas.  Once all the ingredients are properly diced up, place them into the tortilla bread, and wait for the meat to finish cooking.  Once it does finish cooking, place it in the tortilla bread as well.  Then, roll the tortilla into a flat, rectangular shape, and place it back into the frying pan.  Cook the quesadilla until both sides of the tortilla bread are brown, by which time it will be ready to be served.


The subject, N.S., grew up in a Hispanic family, and had a number of Hispanic recipes and foods as a result, including quesadillas.  The subject explained that quesadillas were always an excellent and versatile food for his family to make, as they were simple in instructions, didn’t take long to cook, and had a number of food items and nutrients to be a part of the meal.  The subject also explained that they could be made for any meal, and were especially good for a quick lunch in case the subject and his family were in a rush to be someplace fast.


Quesadillas likely are such an important stable in the Latin American culinary culture because of their ease of access and general nutritional value that each quesadilla has.  Quesadillas in general do not take long to make, and can be feasibly made quickly enough to create a full meal without spending too much time or worrying about how long each quesadilla will take.  Additionally, quesadillas contain a number of food stuffs that are generally valuable and nutritional, and are able to fill a number of food pyramid requirements through their consumption.

Egusi Soup


EI: “So basically, in my family but I feel like Nigerian culture in general, there’s this one dish… It’s a soup, it’s called egusi soup. I don’t know all that goes into it. I know egusi is a melon, but you eat the seeds, so the soup is made by grinding up the seeds and mixing it with vegetables. It kind of smells… It makes the house smell bad. Not necessarily bad, but you know when egusi soup is being made in the house. It’s just a dish for whenever, but there is a process of making it, so you have to plan in advance. Finding the different ingredients is hard because you have to go to a specific Nigerian grocery store, and there aren’t that many of those, so you have to make the trek to go to the grocery store and make it which is a full day kind of thing. It’s more difficult, but it’s not for, like, special occasions.”

CONTEXT: EI is a black freshman at USC studying business. She grew up in the Bay area in California, but her family is Nigerian.

EI: “My family, we don’t make it very much, but it’s basically when my mom or my grandma comes and she and makes it. It makes me feel like oh wow, it’s a part of Nigerian culture, like immersed. I feel like that was always fun because my sister and I would come home and we’d smell the smell and get so excited. We’d be like “oh my gosh, yay! Egusi!” Because before we’d have it once in every like five years. We’ve been having it more recently which is cool, but now, we have it and it’s that same excitement of ‘Oh, I haven’t had this in a while’ even if it was the other day.”

ANALYSIS: I’ve never heard of egusi soup before, but a quick google search reveals that it’s a fairly common dish associated with Nigerian heritage. While the dish is not eaten at a specific time in EI’s family, it definitely has a purpose: for EI, it’s a means to connect her to her culture. She stated that it makes her feel immersed in Nigerian culture. Nigerian culture is not super common in the Bay area, and based on EI’s comments, it takes effort to express that identity. After all, she stated that Nigerian grocery stores are far away—in order to acquire the ingredients to make egusi soup, it takes a lot of effort. The making of egusi soup becomes very deliberate. Not only that, it’s acquired an association with the women in her family as her mother and grandmother are the people who make it. On the topic of ingredients, it’s interesting that the egusi hasn’t been replaced. Often, people replace certain materials if they’re hard to get. However, because the egusi itself is the main part of the soup, it can’t be replaced without losing the egusi-ness that makes it egusi soup. It makes the trek to the Nigerian grocery store is entirely necessary.



  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 Tbls sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbls vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar

Mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add water, eggs, and oil. Stir until lumps are gone. Fry on a poffertjies pan or fry silver-dollar sized pancakes in a frying pan. To serve, spread with butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

CONTEXT: EC is a white graduate student at USC studying linguistics. Up until attending USC, she lived in Pasadena, California. That being said, her dad is from Iowa, and her mom is from Indiana.

The recipe itself was typed and printed on a piece of printer paper.

EC: I learned it from my dad. He makes poffertjies for us. We make it for Easter and Christmas brunch. It’s very much a brunch, a breakfast. It’s a Dutch recipe, you need a special pan to make it in: a round pan. All the ones I’ve seen are cast-iron, although I would imagine that you can make them in a non cast-iron, but it has little divots in them that are less than an inch in diameter, and there are about 15-20 of them. It’s like pouring batter into  a mold, and then you use a special two-tined fork to flip them and get them out, so it’s kind of a process. My dad probably learned it from… There’s a town in Iowa where he met my mom and he got married called Orange City Iowa, and it’s one of the most Dutch towns in America. They had a saying. I don’t know if this was a Dutch saying or the non-Dutch people that said it, my dad was mostly Swedish and Irish, and it’s: “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” So I’m sure he learned it from living in that town. My dad typed out the recipe for Christmas: he gave my brother and I poffertjie pans for Christmas, and then he also gave us the recipe.

ANALYSIS: Wikipedia shows that the dish is frequently made with yeast and buckwheat, but this is not shown in EC’s recipe. Instead, it uses accessible ingredients: a nonspecific type of flour, vegetable oil, etc. It may simply be because yeast and buckwheat aren’t pantry staples in many American households—since the recipe was a gift to his children, EC’s father may have also wanted to ensure that they could actually make it. The gift of the recipe was almost a rite of passage, given to continue the poffertjie legacy in their family but only once they were old enough and living on their own. There are many nonspecific parts of the recipe. The amount of butter and powdered sugar, for instance, are completely vague. These are the portions of the recipe that don’t concern the actual making of the recipe: they’re additions at the end. That being said, EC would know the general amount that’s required from watching her dad make them over the years, taking down that potential barrier. Any people outside of their family who attempted to make them may struggle with that particular step, but the written recipe becomes more of a reminder than a guide for those who are already familiar.

The Hole in One

Context: The subject of the interview is an older man who grew up in southern California 


“When I was in high school at some point, I turned to my dad one morning and asked “hey dad is there something you could teach me to cook”. He said that he doesn’t cook much but he could teach me how to cook a hole in one. And I said no I didn’t say anything about golf, I said cook. He said I know, it’s called a hole in one. I asked, what’s that? So he said he’d teach me. He said get that piece of bread and butter it up on both sides. He said now take a little knife and make a circle in the bread. And so you’re cutting around the circle in the bread. Now take that little circle out of the bread. Now go over and put a pan on the burner and turn the burner on and put the piece of bread in the pan. It will start to cook. So what’s next? So now get an egg out and crack the egg into the hole. When you crack the egg and the egg starts to come out the shell, make sure it goes in the hole. All of a sudden it starts to cook and within about five minutes it starts to look done. Now take a spatula and you’re done. And finally, as my dad would say, yokes on you”. 


This piece of folklore is an example of folklore that is passed down through culinary activities. This genre of folklore in particular is greatly rooted in cultural and familial practices. It is usually in a familial setting that someone would be cooking, and food usually has ties to a greater culture. 

Almond and Luck


The interviewee is one of my housemates and we often engage in conversation about his Danish heritage. This folklore is a food ritual that he practices as part of a family tradition.



The following is transcribed from the story told by the interviewee.

“Every Christmas eve we would eat pickled herring and rice pudding. The tradition is that we would have a bowl of rice pudding and at the bottom of one of the bowls there would be an almond. And whoever would get the almond would have good luck the next year. And in order to celebrate this good luck, the person who got the almond would get a marzipan pig. Sometimes if we got too lazy to go to the store to buy the pig, we would just make a different animal out of marzipan. Last year we made a penguin out of marzipan and I remember once we made a spider. It’s just a fun thing that we would do every Christmas eve.”



This is a Danish tradition that serves to celebrate a festival. The ritual happens near the end of the dinner and is meant to bookend the festival by giving a person luck for the coming year. For the interviewee, this custom is very much about having a shared experience with the family, and one that is fun and wholesome. The tradition has clearly developed over the year, the family not just using a marzipan pig but allowing the children in the family to create new and interesting animals such as the spider or penguin. But ultimately, the spirit of the custom remains the same. On a cultural level, this custom helps enforce the end of a year and celebrate new beginnings.