Heritage Cooking: Discovering your family’s culinary history

At AmericanMom, we love heritage cooking. Not only is it the ultimate comfort food, but it also adds depth and richness to American food culture while providing an opportunity to connect with others in a unique way.  

If you were to ask someone from another country what American food culture is, we suspect they’d say McDonald’s, Starbucks and frozen foods. Or the more famous and traditional, hamburgers and apple pie. 

But, as any individual across America would tell you, we’re so much more than that. Each of us has a cultural heritage with food and recipes that tap deep into our roots like nothing else can. 

On the AmericanMom team, while we’re all firmly planted in our American hometowns, we each have a cultural heritage that’s completely different from one another. 

For example, one has a Korean heritage. Another, Portuguese. And another, German.

In a recipe swap of their families’ well-loved recipes, none of them would have foods remotely familiar to the other. One has kimchi, bulgogi, and bibimbap. Another has family recipes of pastéis de nata, sopash and bifanas. And another, has pffeffernusse German Christmas cookies.

And while none of them uses their heritage recipes on a daily or even weekly basis, those well-loved foods are instantly familiar and comforting to them. 

But here’s what’s so important about heritage cooking– 

Your family’s recipes can build relationships and cross divides with others in a way that little else can.

By opening your home to a different family and sharing your heritage recipes with them you’re saying, “Let me tell you more about me. This is what I eat to remember my grandparents. And this is what their grandparents ate to remember their birthplace.” 

It’s surprisingly vulnerable. 

Through food, you’re giving your guests a chance to get to know you more than the here and now. You’re cracking open the vault to your history and letting them know you’re more than the sum of your parts.  

We encourage you to try it sometime. Plan a dinner party and have everyone bring a heritage dish of their own. Through eating each dish, you’ll uncover stories of loved ones, holidays, wonderful memories, sad memories, family lore, and age-old traditions.

By the time everyone is full, you’ll all have allowed others to peek into your history and offered an opportunity to bridge any differences you may have had. 

Here at AmericanMom, we celebrate each of our heritages and love how they contribute to American culture in their own way. And maybe, through food, through our own open doors, we can start to build communities of respect and kindness as we get to know each other better.

If you have any heritage recipes, we encourage you to submit yours here and tell us a bit about why the dish is so important to who you are. 

-The AmericanMom Team