June 17, 2023

Exploring the Flavors of Heritage

Explore the intersection of food and culture with these 30 food-related traditions listed by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Chef Sean Brock is many things: he’s a cookbook collector, an advocate for local ingredients and home gardens, and loves bourbon. But he’s also a historian and an author.

Cooking with your ancestors

The agrarian lifestyles of our ancestors gave rise to powerful culinary traditions. Inventive grandmothers used what was available to create dishes that brought community together and enforced a sense of identity.

Creating an heirloom recipe book is a great way to preserve and share these recipes and stories. Start by asking your oldest family members if they have any recipes that remind them of their past. You can also invite relatives over for a meal to discuss your family’s culinary heritage.

Rosen suggests visiting local food and heritage societies for more ideas on how to collect your family’s recipes. He also recommends looking through cookbooks with recipes from the region or culture that your family comes from.

Once you have your collection of recipes, use MyHeritage’s photo features to repair and enhance them, then upload them to your family tree for safe keeping. This way, they will be protected from damage and lost in the future.

Gathering your family’s recipes

One of the best ways to remember your heritage is by cooking the foods that make up your family’s history. By bringing back these recipes and sharing them with your friends and family, you can connect with your past and build new traditions for the future.

Organizing your recipes is essential to making dinner time less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone. When you have a system for storing your recipes, you can easily find the recipe you want without having to search through cookbooks or the internet.

A digital solution may be the best option for a modern cook, with apps like Big Oven and Paprika enabling users to gather online recipes from all over the web in one place. If you have a lot of old recipes in your possession, Shutterfly offers a way to create a custom cookbook from your collection, with options for photos and handwritten recipes (that can be typed up for those whose writing is difficult to read). This would make a lovely present for a friend or family member.

Gathering your family’s photos

During the coronavirus pandemic, many families used the time at home to complete long-overdue projects. They may have repainted the dresser in teal, cleared out their pantry like Marie Kondo, or gone through old photos.

If you have a large number of family photographs, it’s important to organize them. This will help you find specific images more easily in the future, as well as share them with other family members. You can organize your photos by surname or by family unit (like maternal and paternal sides of the family). It is also helpful to label each photo with a person’s first name, last name, and year taken.

Make sure to bring any equipment that you might use to record genealogy data, such as a notebook, an audio recorder, or a computer. Also, remember to bring a few hard copies of your family photos that you can keep in a safe place. You never know when you might need them.

Researching your immigrant ancestors

Tracing your immigrant ancestors can be challenging, but having a plan makes all the difference. In this guest post, Certified Genealogist Kimball Carter outlines helpful resources that can aid in finding an ancestor’s homeland.

During family meals, ask your relatives about their life before they came to America. You might be surprised to learn how many clues about an ancestor’s ethnic heritage are hidden in their oral history. For example, a Finnish relative might share that they had afternoon coffee with a cardamom-infused danish called pulla every day as a child.

Once you have a good idea of when your ancestor left their home country, use US census immigration worksheets to narrow down the estimated arrival year and research resources for their new home country. Remember to review your search results often because information that seemed irrelevant initially may prove useful later. For example, if an ancestor’s name was recorded differently in passenger lists than it is now, it could lead you to different records later.


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