When we think of ancestors, we might first think of yellowed photos, dusty documents or old tablecloths. Or it may just be a jumble of strange names and dates that don’t mean very much to anyone in the family except that aunt who does all the family history research.
But it doesn’t have to be all names and dates on a chart. Honouring our heritage can be much more interesting and relevant to our every-day lives when we use food as the connector between generations. Everyone can relate to something delicious, something they can eat, something that reminds them of home, something that will remind them of a happy memory.
Here, we will share with you a few secrets in how you can make those names and dates into real people, and create new memories that the next generation will have to pass on.
- Calendar of birthdays: you may wish to collate the birthdays of grandparents and great grandparents on both sides of the family, and display the calendar in a visible spot. On that day you may have a birthday cake or a special meal prepared in honour of that person.
- Celebratory dinner: you may decide to cook a particular relative’s favourite meal or treat on the day of their birthday. Their favourite meal may be very well known, or you may need to do some more research to find out what that might have been. Check out this blog for more tips.
- Add memories and photos to a recipe: A recipe is rarely just a set of instructions. If you have an original recipe written by a relative, you may want to add memories by way of recording stories and gathering photos of that person, or the dish itself. This helps to add depth to the story about the food.
- Interview a relative about their favourite foods: this can be really fun to do, as we often like to talk about food and our favourite memories or treats. You might like to combine this with adding memories and photos to a recipe, or you might use this to gather key recipes from a particular relative. Here are some more hints for interviewing.
- Revamp an old recipe and modernise it: you might have that old fruit cake recipe from grandma, but what if you don’t like fruitcake? See if you can have a go at reinventing it, modifying it, updating it or varying it so that it works for you, while still staying true to the memory of that person. Check out our additional hints here.
- Print a recipe on a tea towel: This can be kind of fun, and something that doesn’t cost a great deal of money. You can use it as a gift idea to pass onto children moving out of home, for the relatives themselves, or just a fun way to never loose the recipe! Here are a few providers we like: buy, DIY, Kits.
- Create a tradition: there may be a particular dish that you have rediscovered and love, so why not make it a tradition to bake or cook that dish every year for their birthday, or perhaps for a regular gathering, or as part of a regular family ritual.
- Frame an original recipe and display in the kitchen: it couldn’t get easier than this, and is always there for reference. It will never get lost, and can also be a great gift for children leaving home, or who have already left home and are always asking for that recipe.
- Bake-swap: Have a recipe bake-off day where you gather some family members to share, bake and swap heritage recipes that you may have each taken on and mastered. You can even do this with friends and extended family.
These are all fun ways to allow our ancestors into our lives, and for the stories of our ancestors to become real and relatable to all generations. Share your experience with us on our social media pages or at firstname.lastname@example.org