TELL US ABOUT
A FOOD TRADITION
THAT IS MEANINGFUL
IN YOUR LIFE:
A tradition we have in my family is making me breakfast on my birthday morning, which is on December 25th, also known as Christmas. So the tradition is that my mom makes me breakfast, or whatever I ask for she’ll make it. I guess I hold that tradition valuable because I’m going off to college soon, and when I come back, always know that she will make me breakfast on the day of my birthday, and I wake up to the smell of pancakes all the time.
To tell you the truth, one of my first big movement memories of growing food is when we wanted to start a farmers market, me and my wife. And The Food Project actually came out and did a test farmers market for us, and the people in our neighborhood really took to it. So we started our own farmers market. But the funniest thing about it is that we couldn’t get any farmers to come to our farmers market. So we became farmers. Nobody wants to come? We’ll do it. I love to grow food, that’s just one of my things.
I think my most meaningful food tradition is just the holidays, and having food for the holidays. I think the holidays are really important because, well, especially for me, because my family is kind of like really separated, but during the holidays we come together, and it’s really sweet. Everybody makes a meal and they bring it in and we have like, this big, collective meal and it’s really amazing. We have a lot of vegetarians in my family, so I think you’re always getting something new. I think that’s really fun, and there’s so much variety. I love pumpkin pie. We’d always have pumpkin pie. It’s actually my favorite. I think it’s my favorite because it really shows how food can bring people together and how it’s so important.
I used to live around here. I’m 62 years old, but as a child, at 11 or 12, I used to live a couple blocks over, and I would get my pail in the summertime and I would walk from here to the beaches in South Boston, and then I would dig clams, cause you could get clams all over the place, and I would put them in my bucket, go back through South Boston, come home, and my mother would put them in cornmeal. She said it would clean them. So we’d have steamers. And I’ve been eating steamers ever since. We’re a seafood family. We were a seafood family. I lived in Boston my whole life. I go to South Boston now, and I don’t think there’s any more clams out there. You could just go on the beach, right on the beach, you could just go there, you’d stomp your feet, you’d get the bucket, and sometimes I’d get a little harassment, but most of the time, it was a safe course. Cause I didn’t have any money, I just walked with my bucket and my mother would put cornmeal in it!
We would read Blueberries for Sal, and we would go to Maine in the summer and we’d pick blueberries, then make jam. And it was like a really cool experience as a family. I still pick berries with my mom, not every year, but we’ve branched out to strawberries and raspberries. It’s now a triple berry jam. I always liked that cause you’re actually harvesting the food and making it into something delicious.
I’m from Cape Verde island. My traditional food is Cachupa. Some people like Cachupa with vegetable, some like with meat. Typically we use pork. And we use tuna, fresh tuna, no can. We mostly make it on the weekends, because it’s like a slow cooker. You can wash your clothes. You can clean the house. That’s typical weekends making dinner. My grandmother taught me.
I’m Jamerican: half-Jamaican, half-American. Thanksgiving and around Christmas and New Years, that’s when my family started baking, pulling out all the stops. I can’t live without baked goods. Strawberry rhubarb pie. My grandmother would cook. My father, he’d just occasionally show that he could cook a little bit. My grandmother would always come up with the Caribbean dishes. My mother would do dishes from the States. We might be Italian one night, we might be Asian another night, we might just be American. We always had fish on Friday though. Don’t care what happened. Yeah we had a full gambit.
Well, my mom and her mom before her were working women, and so they didn’t really do a lot of cooking. They did a lot of takeout, Campbell’s food and stuff. But the one thing she did teach me to do was to make pie crust. We had a plum tree in the backyard, just randomly, like an Italian plum tree, and we used to make plum pies.
One of my fondest memories of a food tradition in my house is New Years. On Lunar New Year we would invite a whole bunch of our family and friends over and have this huge potluck, where we’d make like, my favorite dish, pho, a Vietnamese traditional dish. We’d just all sit down and talk about the things that happened in the past year, what our new year’s resolution is, and we’d just eat food, joke around, play some games, and go home.
Every Christmas we make soupa de pesce, which is soup of the fish. And its really good especially if you dip bread in it. It’s got many different forms of seafood. It’s got calamari, its got mussels, other stuff, pasta. You make the soup and you put it on the pasta. You get some Italian bread and start dipping it in the soup and you eat that and its so, so good. So that’s a Christmas Eve food we have every year. It’s Italian. My mom’s family is Italian.
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