Week 19: Food

May theme: Social

A fellow genealogist, observing an abundance of social media posts, once commented that future genealogists are going to be overwhelmed when they inherit our photos because they are all pictures of what we had for dinner.

I’m not a foodie. I’m a picky eater, and my favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations. What I love about food, though, is the opportunity to gather, to socialize, to party. Many of my memories about the generation or two before me have to do with food.

My paternal grands, of course, had a Smörgåsbord at every holiday – Knäckebröd (which our family calls hard bread, but grocery stores call crispbread), Limpa (Swedish Rye), real butter, ham, meatballs, lingonberries, pickled herring, cheeses, cookies… and coffee.

Grands David and Emma in Grandma’s kitchen.

We didn’t have as many food memories with my maternal grandfather and his second wife Rose, who was German. They spent most every holiday with Rose’s children. I do have a few food memories, though. My grandfather had a lovely orchard, with lots of plum trees, and he would take us out to pick a snack when they were in season.

We were often served ice cream when we visited them. Grandma Rose would peel the cardboard off the ice cream, and then slice it. I’ve never seen anyone else before or since serve it like that.

Grands Rose and Alfred

I’ve heard tell of a story that happened soon after they married. My aunt married the week before – the weddings were timed so that there would not be two women keeping house together. Rose decided to make her new husband a pie, without realizing that my aunt had kept salt in the sugar cannister. She was not pleased.

My husband’s Aunt Dee served us Thanksgiving every single time we visited. My husband has been going through his deceased father’s papers, and found a birthday card from her for his 80th birthday many years ago. Inside it contained a coupon for a homemade dinner next time he visited. He died a couple years ago at age 91, and she died this past January at age 102. Chances are he collected on it, even if he kept the coupon.

My mother-in-law made a cookbook / scrapbook for me a few years ago. The highlight is the family recipe for fruitcake. The recipe is attributed to Maggie Disney Luers, my husband’s great-grandmother (1865-1900). Along with the original recipe is the updated one, to reflect more modern ingredients as well as a different way of measuring them. (For one, they substituted a bunch of other dried fruit for the citron, which I suspect greatly improved it.)

The modernized family fruitcake recipe, copied out by Maggie’s daughter Fannie Luers Wright (1896-1996), that hangs in my DIL’s dining room.

I’ve never made the fruitcake. For most of the 40+ years I’ve been married, Aunt Dee made us one every Christmas and mailed it to us in a round tin. The next time we saw her, we returned the tin for future use! Fruitcake has such a bad reputation, and yet I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like this one. And considering what a picky eater I am, that’s saying something.

My daughter-in-law helped Aunt Dee make them one year, and I’m hoping she’ll decide to carry on the tradition. Otherwise I might have to learn how.



  1. Marian Wood says:

    Enjoyed your food memories from family history! Salt in the sugar container…too bad no label as a warning!


  2. Barb LaFara says:

    I enjoyed the stroll down your family food memory aisle. One of my aunts sliced ice cream as you describe. Looking back I can see how it was probably easier than scooping for a family party. Thanks for sharing.


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