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Your heritage and your cooking...

So, I was wondering lately -- how many of you mostly prepare dishes from your cultural or ethnic heritage?

I am German born and raised, but I would say that the majority of dishes I prepare are not German. I cook a LOT of Italian, Asian, American, or French influenced food.

While I like a variety of German dishes and enjoy having them when I'm back in the homeland, I've never felt compelled to learn how to make spaetzle, or tafelspitz, or schweinshaxe, or any other typical German dish you can think of.

With the execption of my German-style cucumber salad which I make rather often because I LOVE cukes, there's only a few German dishes I make, and rarely:

Wiener Schnitzel (which really is Austrian, but close enough)
Rotkohl / braised red cabbage

Though my favorite breakfast/lunch food at home is a decidedly German-influenced dish, strammer Max: toast with ham, cheese, and a fried egg on top.

Hmmm. Maybe I'm more German in the kitchen than I thought I was '-)

I'd love to hear about you!

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  1. well, by birth, i'm a New York Jew via Eastern Europe & my ancestry is primarily Russian & Polish, but people who don't know that usually assume i'm either Italian or Greek. and now that i think about it, the bulk of my everyday cooking is probably more influenced by those areas of the Mediterranean than anywhere else. hmm...unless stuffed cabbage counts, i'm not sure i've *ever* prepared a traditional Polish or Russian dish in my life!

    of course Ashkenazi cuisine for Jewish holidays is another story entirely.

    1. I'm third generation, mother German/Czech, father English. So mostly American, but one taste I got from Mom was a love of sauerkraut with pork and potatoes - either kielbasa or pork chops. Love red cabbage, and veal stroganoff with noodles. Also a cucumber salad Mom used to make that was mostly cucumbers marinated in white vinegar with various spices - is that German?

      Not much heritage from Dad's side - his mother was a truly heinous cook - have you ever had a gristle sandwich?

      1 Reply
      1. re: pasuga

        enjoyable thread. I am Chinese-Canadian but cooking (amateur not professional) is eclectic. Lots of Italian/ French but Greek, Korean, Mexican, Thai is as likely as cuisine from my upbringing. When i do cook Chinese, it is more homey, hot pot casseroles, simple noodle soups. I think back with gratitude of the healthy fresh chinese food I had growing up (3 different dishes, usually a steamed fish, stir fried chinese vegetables etc) and did not appreciate as other kids got TV dinners. I was certainly raised to appreciate good well prepared food with diverse flavors and ingredients. That legacy more than the cuisine of my heritage is what influences my cooking now.

      2. I identify most with the 3/4s of me that's German. My father's mother, in particular, was a superb cook who made simple but scrumptious dishes. She also held on fast to her German heritage. When she first came to this country in 1913, she was ten and settled with cousins on their farm -- in what became Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood ("Harlem" is Dutch for "farm"). She lived all over New York City during her life, but traveled almost weekly to the City's Yorkville district on the East Side near 86th Street to buy German specialties.

        The man who taught me my foundation in cooking was also German. He gave me my first job -- washing dishes in his fine-dining restaurant. He could execute the French repertoire magnificently but the dishes that he created which were the most memorable were from the cuisines of Alsace, Austria and Germany. He helped to "amplify" the impression my German heritage made on me. We spoke German almost exclusively together -- and before long I put my dish-rags away and was cooking next to my mentor.

        The thing my grandparents -- and my first culinary teacher -- had in common beside their country of birth was that they survived horrendous poverty. My grandparents raised kids during the depression and my mentor survived the poverty and famine in post-World War II Germany.

        Most people see three slices of bacon and think "that's not even enough for breakfast for two." I think "if I chop the bacon up and saute it with potatoes and onions, I can serve four for breakfast if I put poached eggs on top of this hash..."

        When I make my grandmother's chicken soup with German soup noodles -- made from eggs and flour and rolled out very, very thin with a rolling pin (okay I use the pasta rolling/cutting machine these days) -- it's as if she's still with me.

        Cucumbers were a luxury that even after she was comfortable Grandma wouldn't buy. Her pickled salads were heavy on the cabbage, onions, carrots and celery. I make the same sweet and sour vegetable mixture to this day. Also red cabbage with spices and apples.

        The thing that reminded Grandma of Germany, and of the German farms in this country, was asparagus. She loved canned asparagus, but would only allow herself to have it if a family member brought it over. The few times, as a teenager, I made steamed fresh asparagus for her with lemon butter, she savored every last bite. Of course, I can't make asparagus of any sort without thinking of her.

        I make apfelkuchen (kind of a cross between an apple cake and an apple tart) a couple of times a year. I wish I made Linzer Tarts more often than every other year. The thing I don't make are the wonderful yeast-risen coffee cakes Grandma used to make.

        Pot roast is nearly a sauerbraten when I get through with it. Chicken in the pot gets big fluffy dumplings redolent of dill and black pepper. Pork roast is redolent of garlic and sage. The coating for my schnitzel is made with just the right kind of bread crumbs, a bit of lemon zest, and a whisper of nutmeg.

        When fooling around in the kitchen, I'll use ideas from my German repertoire more often than I use techniques from the training I've received in the classical French or Italian cuisines.

        Now go figure that for the last 18 years, I've run 3 different Chinese restaurants... what does *that* have to do with anything? (Well, the Germans did build a brewery in Tsingtao...)

        39 Replies
        1. re: shaogo

          I'm a gringo that was raised in a barrio in Tucson. I consider Sonoran my heritage.

          1. re: mrbigshotno.1

            I'm your basic European mongrel, extra emphasis on western Europe, Germany, and the British Isles. I was raised in the Tucsoneast-side housing boom barrio of Tucson, which is not as cool and romantic as the other older barrioss there, but it was home.
            I consider myself Sonoran, too. I don't cook German or French or British Isles, but I cook a lot of Sonoran, and more recently, expanded Mexican-Caribbean.

            BTW- Shaogo, I thought for sure you were Asian- specifically Japanese!

            1. re: EWSflash

              "Shaogo" sounds Chinese, not Japanese.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                You're right, Mr. Fujisaka. "Shaogo" is a bastardization of "Xiao Gou," for "little dog," in Chinese (Mandarin).

          2. re: shaogo

            Thanks for your long post. Interestingly enough, because of your other posts & partly due to your username, I had taken you for someone with an Asian background -- go figure '-)

            And how could I forget Spargel? Of course, I love, love, love (WHITE) asparagus like every true German. One of the things I eat a lot of when in Germany, since you can't get decent white asparagus in the U.S.

            1. re: linguafood

              In New York City there's white asparagus around once in a while that's very, very good. I remember Schaller and Weber (a German meat market) even selling it. But I think it was Holland asparagus, not German.

              When people approach me (paunchy caucasian guy) in our Chinese restaurant and say "funny, you don't *look* Chinese!" trying to be funny, I assure them that I *am* Chinese but was disfigured in a horrible accident. They usually shut up after that.

              1. re: shaogo

                Well, imported asparagus would taste better than what is available grown stateside. Of course, it won't be as fresh as harvested that same morning '-)

                Love the resto story '-D

                1. re: linguafood

                  Why would imported Asparagus automatically be better?

                  1. re: bbqboy

                    I was wondering that, too. We get fabulous locally grown asparagus (green, purple, AND white) here in Ohio in the springtime, generally April. It tastes best if I cook it the day it's picked, so it's hard to imagine that asparagus shipped from overseas would be of a higher quality...

                    1. re: Niki in Dayton

                      Niki I live on the other corner of Ohio from you and my parents had a large veggie garden that included asparagus and I never understand their fascination w/ the first white asparagus in April and May.

                      My mothers family is Alsatian and my fathers family is Bavarian so I am very familiar with German/French and central European food, but white asparagus is something that I never developed a taste for.

                    2. re: bbqboy

                      It wouldn't, b/c it wouldn't be as fresh. However, any white asparagus I've had in the US -- and mind you, probably not grown locally, so ALSO not day-fresh, has paled in comparison to what is available in Germany. It's a matter of soil, really, and there are a few areas in Germany (around Schwetzingen in the south, and near Berlin in the east) that produce the BEST asparagus in the world. It's more flavorful than anything I've bought stateside. But surely, I am biased '-P

                      1. re: linguafood

                        My German friend tells me the same, that the white asparagus in Germany is far superior to anything she's ever had in the states. Good to know because I have never "gotten" white asparagus--but I've never had it in Germany.

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          You know what? Maybe it's a cultural thing, too. Something you have to grow up with. My man doesn't "get" the whole asparagus hysteria we Germans experience during that short season (early/mid April depending on the weather to June 24) at all, either. We go absolutely bat shit over our spargel, and most Americans/non-Europeans think we are crazy. I think we might be '-)

                          But farm-fresh (and not as a meaningless slogan, but harvested that same morning), steamed asparagus with drawn parsley butter, new potatoes, and smoked ham is an orgasmic experience to most Germans.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Hence the unusually high number of conceptions in Germany in April, May and June.

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              There's a reason for the line "Veronika, der Spargel wächst" in the 20s song Veronika, der Lenz ist da = Veronika, spring has arrived.

                              ("veronika, the asparagus is growing"... no metaphor whatsoever haha)

                              1. re: linguafood

                                Oh, thx, I'm going to impress my friend w/that line next time I see her!

                            2. re: linguafood

                              Is it mainly white asparagus in Germany or are you also big on the green as we are in the UK (we never see homegrown white)?

                              1. re: Harters

                                Nah. Nobody really cares about green asparagus in Germany. I remember seeing my first green asparagus.... in the 80s maybe? Back then, it was exotic, so people bought it. But it never could create the same, ridiculous obsession as white asparagus.

                                I do like it roasted (the green, that is), or grilled, or as part of pasta dishes. But it can never win over the white gold hahaha.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  I guess I gotta jump in.

                                  We had an asparagus patch while growing up. We had a season long each year of tender, very young, slim asparagus quickly streamed and served withing four minutes of harvest. Nothing beats this. Aspragus is a perennial; and we had the same patch produce year after year; each year after a long, healthy winter dormancy.

                                  I've awaited and savored the first white asparagus in Germany! Delicious but not as good as the home patch.

                                  I've had fresh green and newly harvested white asparagus in Peru. Delicious and as good as that in Germany.

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Not having been to Peru, I'll have to take your word for it, Sam.

                                    One thing that might influence the 'not as good as the home patch' might be personal and emotional attachment, no? Homegrown anything will most likely beat out some random veggie you didn't pour your heart and labor into. Just my 2 pfennige '-)

                                    (knowing how MUCH you love that 'moronic sideways smiley)

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      You're right, of course.

                                      But ... I think little beats being able to harvest young and fresh shoots and to cook then ever sooo lightly and quickly consume them!

                                      As to heart and labor: almost none whatsoever. Bit of weeding and regular watering and nothing else. No hilling up and covering with soil and all that.

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        But then it won't stay white, dude. Two different animals, or rather, vegetables.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          You should visit the north coast of Peru. They produce both green and (buried) white. Would be interesting to see what you think.

                                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Sam- when we go to Puerto Penasco, Mexico (nearly to the top of the Sea of Cortez) in Oct-Nov, the vendedores de mariscos always have tons of fabulous asparagus, which I thought was more of a spring thing. Would you have any idea where it comes from and why it shows up in the fall? I have a hard time believing that a relatively backwater northern Mexico town would be pulling in spring produce from Chile, et al.

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        China is the world’s largest producer of asparagus (88% of global production in 2004). Peru is globally the largest exporter (22% by value) followed by Mexico (16%), the US and Spain (14% each). In order, the US, Germany, and Japan are the world’s largest asparagus importers

                                        Mexico now sows some 8,000 ha of asparagus, produced 55,000 tons (2002, greater now), of which 50,000 tons of fresh were exported. Mexican production is from Sonora, Baja California, and Guanajuato. Availability over much of the year is due to two irrigated production seasons.

                                        Peru produced 185,000 tons in 2003 – with 65,000 tons exported fresh and 114,000 tons processed and exported. Other smaller producers include the US, Germany, Greece, Spain, and Japan.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          Any way to distinguish Linguafood's beloved White Stalks in those figures, or is it really a German/European treat?

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            I am not quite sure what exactly you are trying to say, but quantity -- with regard to asparagus, means next to nothing. It's all about quality, and that comes from the terroir the asparagus is grown in.

                                            China and Mexico can export all the (white?) asparagus they want, but I'll take my spargel from Beelitz or Schwetzingen over imported any time, from early April to June 24. Asparagus is a seasonal vegetable that should NOT be available year round. And I continue to believe that Germany produces the best in the world (until convinced otherwise... but why would I even buy imported asparagus if I can get the real stuff).

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              The numbers above were in answer to EWSflash's question to me regarding Mexican asparagus production.

                                              I was NOT saying anything further to you but Genießen Sie Ihren deutschen Spargel and that I hope you get to try Peruvian asparagus in Peru.

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                Vielen Dank, werde ich tun!! And I hope I make it to Peru some day as well, though asparagus will not be high on my list.... too many other regional things to try, I bet :-D

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  Oh, man! Only on Chowhound:

                                                  A Japanese-American, living in Columbia, speaking German to a woman about Peruvian asparagus!

                                                  This is priceless!

                                                    1. re: shaogo

                                                      Reminds me of a post yesterday where someone was recommending a Portuguese version of a Peruvian cookie that's actually made in Japan: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6864...

                                                      When I read it I remember thinking, "Now THAT"S globalism!"

                                              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                Peruvian is almost exclusively what we see in the UK when it's not our own short season. Personally I don't rate the taste by comparison and almost never buy it. I'm happy to gorge for the six weeks of Brit grown.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  Personally, I now buy only Colombian green at my supermarket.

                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Thanks- that explains it. Penasco is in Sonora, just across the top of the Sea of Cortez from San Felipe in Baja.

                                                  I had NO idea that Mexico was the 3rd largest producer of asparagus.

                                    3. re: linguafood

                                      Über alles! near here in southern NL i get spargel grown in a neighbouring province. i always picked up several kilos [directly from the farmers] to bring back when visited a friend who lived somewhere between Bremen and Hannover. and then even deep in the countryside with the farms on all sides. there are countless Spargel signs on country road in the spring. i like NL spargel fine but i say this about most other NL [greenhouse!] vegs 'sieht gut aus aber schmeckt nach nichts'. :(

                                      Spargel mit geräucherter Schinken:) http://www.flickr.com/photos/tenhosau...

                                      1. re: Pata_Negra

                                        mmmmm. the picture sieht SEHR gut aus. nice fat stalks :-D. not sure about the hard-boiled egg, tho.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          c'mon Lingua-- grated hardboiled egg or egg sauces such as hollandaise on asparagus are about as classic as you can get! :)

                                          and of course whatever asparagus is most local and fresh is always going to taste the best. we had a large asparagus patch in our garden and ate it just-picked in season. i'll also happily buy it at the farmer's market-- at the supermarket, not so much, unless i'm desperate.

                            3. re: shaogo

                              Your post almost made me cry. What wonderful memories and what a wonderful culinary inheritance you were given. Thanks for making my day!

                            4. Polish and Pa Dutch background, raised in Philly. I was probably more influenced by the neighbors Italian cooking, although we did have pierogies, stuffed cabbage, fresh kielbasa at home. I still make that stuff, but not every day. And I bring a cooler of scrapple back to Texas whenever I get to Philly.

                              1. I'm fourth-generation Canadian on my mother's side (family originally from Ireland), and first-generation English on my father's. My baking comes largely from my mother's side - she had me rolling our piecrust beside her from the time I was 4 or so - but my cooking -except for roast beef and Yorkshire pudding - has rather little to do with the Ontario cooking of my upbringing (meat, two veg, potato variety). It's developed over time, including Chinese cooking from time spent in Asia, Indian and other south and southeast Asian and Eurpoean cuisines I've come across and enjoyed. I credit The Time-Life Foods of the World series and the Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, both of which my mother got me when I was a teenager and which I read cover to cover avidly, with expanding my cultural as well as culinary horizons.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: buttertart

                                  I have that series too...inherited from my husband's aunt...you're so right about the cultural as well as culinary information. It's an awesome series. I have to admit, I haven't really cooked from it much, but it's one of those things I plan to do someday:)

                                  1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                    I haven't either a teriffic amount - made an Indian dinner from it with my boyfriend when I was a kid, my first foray into Indian food - but have made things from the Quintet of Cuisines (the stuffed endive from the Belgian section and the émincé / Geschnetzeltes of veal (better with venison) from the Swiss, and the Finnish cardamom sand cake from Scandinavia many times. The recipes work very well. I am intending to fill out the series with the volumes that got lost or left behind along the way in transcontinental moves once we move (a very good source for this and other 60's/70's cookbooks: The Title Page used bookstore just outside Philadelphia. Feel fee to email me if you want their email address).

                                    1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                      Just read a very amusing piece by Nora Ephron in "American Food Writing" Molly O'Neill ed. from 1968, re teh food scene then and the controversy over the T-L FotW series, especially the French Provincial Cooking volume. Seems the food Establishment was much smaller then but very given to internecine battles, intense rivalries, etc much as it is today.

                                    2. re: buttertart

                                      I'm Canadian as well, grew up in Eastern Ontario... til now I thought my family's mostly Scottish/English background was the reason dinners were protein/2 veg/potato. Maybe it was a regional thing?

                                      I have my Dad's side to thank for my affinity with Scotch, and Mum's side for my sweet tooth. (Gran is French-Canadian who married a Scot). I've never made haggis, detest overboiled veg... I can't say I've ever gotten into the 1/4 french-canadian much either. I did learn one thing from Dad and Gran - to be fearless in the kitchen. I hope to learn a few recipes from Gran, an opportunity I didn't have with Dad or his Mum, and pass on kitchen wisdom to my own kids.

                                      1. re: maplesugar

                                        I think the dinner (which we called supper) composition was partly from ethnic background and partly from home ec training which was widespread from at least the 1930's on.

                                      2. re: buttertart

                                        Funny you mention Woman's Day magazine. When cleaning out some old recipes my mom had given me, I discovered many little cook booklets from that magazine. They date back to 1961 and eack covers 1 type of food - except for one that is James Beard's budget meals. I had a blast going through them.

                                        1. re: nvcook

                                          Man, I'd love to see them. I loved those (I started reading Family Circle and Woman's Day pretty much as soon as I could read - my mom got them at the grocery store back when you had to go to 2 different chains to get both of them - and I still get them, comfort food for the brain). The Christmas cookie ones were really great. WD also used to have excellent crafts for Christmas articles with great knitting patterns - my husband has 2 Fair Isle vests I knitted for him from one, pattern maybe ca 1976 (knitted later and wish I could lay hands on the pattern again). The crafts - and the recipes - have been dumbed-down to some extent over the years unfortunately. FC I believe it was also ran a great column by Peg Bracken, one of my heroines, for some years.

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            I have always loved me some Peg Bracken. I bought my noncooking sister Peg's "I Hate to Cook Book" back in the '70s because I thought it was just perfect. Her 'how to cook wild rice' essay was just priceless, esp. back in the days before farmed wild rice (an oxymoron? Maybe, but I for one am grateful).

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              She was great. wasn't she? I love her breezy style. Several things she wrote pop into mind at appropriate moments.

                                            2. re: buttertart

                                              Are you my twin switched at birth?! Ditto on the knitting patterns - I belong to a group here known as the "happy hooker". (Since prostitution is legal in Nv, that sometimes gets odd looks). I have 2 of the Christmas cookie booklets myself. But, really...James Beard on a budget?!

                                              1. re: nvcook

                                                Maybe so! Have to get knitting again. James Beard on budget cooking is amusing - get the malossol instead of the sevruga, it's cheaper. (His Menus for Entertaining suggests a store cupboard for unexpected guests that would run you about $1000.00 nowadays).

                                        2. I learned to prepare traditional Japanese and Mexican at home growing up. Our Japanese was that of peasants – lots of vegetables, lots of rice, musubi, tsukemono, ume; our sushi was norimaki rolls and inarizushi; we ate sashimi and hot gohan – all well before being discovered by hakujins in the US. Our Mexican was pre-chain and well informed by a woman from Chiapas who cooked during peach harvest.

                                          We also became fluent in the preparation of Chinese, Italian, Swedish, German, and Armenian and other foods of the Central Valley of California. People in my extended family ate, prepared, and sought out everything - all cuisines, the hole in the wall restaurants. We ate ALL parts of all animals. The family canned, made jams and preserves, cooked everything from scratch, hunted, fished, clammed, dived for abalone, dried seaweed (in Hawaii), gleaned fruit, gathered watercress, and grew oranges, pecans, walnuts, Japanese apples and pears, grapefruit, grapes, pomegranates, asparagus (!!), and more.

                                          Starting more than 35 years ago, I've lived and worked in Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, and more), SE Asia (Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Burma, China), East Africa and Madagascar. Everywhere I've worked with small farmers in remote and by-passed areas. I've sought out the food - on streets, in markets, in people's homes, in no-name dirt floor restaurants. I've learned to prepare local foods in the kitchens of the willing. I’ve been very lucky.

                                          1. I benefitted fI benefited from the luxury of having a multiethnic family serving dishes from a variety of cultures. Perhaps one of the more common meals my father would put on the table would include sweet and sour meatballs juxtaposed with plain dal and rice and a piping beef stew. We grew up on a diet of South Asian, Chinese, Filipino, Cajun, Middle Eastern and more. Strictly speaking, is my cooking based mainly on my genetic heritage? No. But do I cook the flavors of my upbringing? Most definitely. Filipino and Spanish cookery probably makes up the bulk of my homemade meals, but the flavorful expansion into Chinese stir-fries, Korean stews or Southwestern chilis are a natural extension of my international culinary upbringing and often bear the mark of my lineage as I tinker at the edges of a recipe. Even the Austrian pastries I enjoy are reminiscences of trips to the Konditorei and birthdays past.

                                            There is something absolutely comforting about the heady aroma of ginger and fried garlic atop a bowl of arroz caldo, but just as full of tradition is the jar of Bosnian ajvar waiting to be spread on toast, just as my Filipina mother would have done years ago.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              My Macedonian sister-in-law introduced me to ajvar, and I love it. I also completely enjoy her cooking, and her stories of how her mom cooks.

                                            2. italian american here and i feel everything i cook is italian...its what he had growing up...

                                              1. Although my heritage is a hodge-podge of Scots, English, German, Italian and probably more, my childhood food was primarily Italian (mom's side) and Appalachin (dad's side). I cook both; make both a mean lasagna and great sausage gravy and biscuits, but I also cook French, Mexican, Thai, Indian, etc. I'd say the majority of the food I cook is Mediterranian influenced; fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits, lots of fish, whole grains, olive oil; but that's a conscious choice to try to eat food which is both healthy and delicious.

                                                1. My ethnic heritage means very little to me because my ancestors immigrated to the US such a very long time ago. FWIW, I'm primarily Welsh, German and Cherokee. But far more important, I'm a Texan, and as you would expect, Tex-Mex, chili and various hot and spicy dishes dominate my repertoire. And if I had the time, my smoker would be in use virutally every weekend of the year.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    Same story.

                                                    I made a potato ham soup the other day, and my entire family was enchanted by the pure Middle-American blandness of it. It wasn't spicy! No seasoning but S&P! Imagine that!

                                                    As it turns out, being a Texan definitely overrides my English/Irish/Welsh mutt roots.

                                                  2. Father's side Polish, Mother's side Maine yankee with a bit of American Indian. Husband is Greek and son married a brazilian. Growing up near grandma in a seaside city where Portugese were prevalent and my father accepted payment from his patients in fresh fish on Fridays and produce from framers, had lots of yummy fish and lobsters. Growing up we had lots of grandma's food - pickles in big jars, peirogi and stuffed cabbage,gefilte fish,spinach soup, borscht etc.(not Jewish but apparently what they ate where she came from). Mother came from a family of good cooks- mostly comfort food but best memories are of red flannel hash, fried chicken, meatloaf, lobster thermidor and crepe suzettes. Married very young and have been to Greece about 18 times to visit family, I confess that this is my favorite food and I cook it often. My MIL taught me how to make everything when she stayed with us for several months. I even taught Greek cooking for awhile. Living in New England, I make alot of seafood dishes. I have also developed a love for Southwest food from New Mexico and make enchiladas etc. frequently. Have also learned to make some Brazilian dishes which my grandchildren love and I find quite tasty.
                                                    Also, since there was a large Jewish population where I grew up, and we had lots of deli on the weekends, I still crave a good corned beef sandwich on rye.
                                                    I used to make peirogi and stuffed cabbage, but not so much now. Still have keilbasa on some holidays but I sure would love some of my grandma's gefilte fish, something I never dared tackle.

                                                    1. I am Bengali, but I rarely cook Indian food at home because it just doesn't taste like my mom's. I'm always disappointed with what I cook, even though my non-Indian husband likes it. And my mother is no help. Her version of a recipe is, "Fry spices in oil, then add onions, ginger, garlic, and chickpeas, and then cook it until it's done." "Aren't there tomatoes?" "Oh, yeah, put in tomatoes too." "Isn't there tamarind?" "Oh, right. Yes, add tamarind." "When?" "When it's ready." I've tried watching her to see how she does it, but I swear she waits until my back is turned and then throws in the rest of the ingredients and covers the pot.

                                                      My food resolution for this year is to overcome my fear of Indian cooking and try to master a few of my favorite dishes.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Pia

                                                        I'm Bengali, too (first generation - mom's from Khulna, dad's from Syhlet but ethnically Arab) and I'm responding to your post because - Sister, boy do I feel your pain. We probably grew up eating similar dishes, so if you've got questions about basic dishes, I may be able to help. My mom's the same with the throwing of the spices in the pot, so I cornered my dad instead who learned from my mom.

                                                        As to the OP... I can’t really describe my style of cooking because I think it has been more heavily influenced by the women who have been close to me as I’ve grown up rather than my ethnic background and they come from very different ethnic backgrounds: Bengali and British-French. From my mom I learned some of the traditional Bengali food and regional South Asian food she cooked regularly, but also dishes she learned from the women she met after getting married -- ME-influenced (from her in-laws), Southern American, Thai, Lao, Italian-American, Tex-Mex, Americanized Chinese – to name a few. There was also a lot of British influence at home because both of my parents went to English-medium schools. From long-term SO’s mother who is now one of my best friends I learned how to cook basics with French and British influences – every day vegetables, sauces, lasagna (w/ bacon & herbs de province in the bolognese!), pork in general, roasts… She taught me how to make the most beautiful Yorkshire puddings and my technique is definitely more the latter than anything else. And, then of course there’s the stuff I’ve learned from CH and on my own – I've learned a TON about regional Mexican from Eat Nopal, Szechuan & Hunan from Fuschia Dunlop, regional Indian (big fan of Andhra food), some Carribean… I guess I’d say that the food I cook is influenced by my ethnic background in the sense that I tend to cook food that has a lot of flavor. It is very unlikely you will find plain steamed anything with nothing but salt on my table, rice being the only exception

                                                        1. re: adrienne156

                                                          As the OP, my point kinda was that, despite my German heritage and/or upbringing, I make VERY few German dishes, which I guess means that it had little to no influence on the dishes I prepare today.

                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                            Oh, I understood your point! Sorry, I didn't word my response correctly.... I just read all of the other responses and thought I had. Or maybe I misused OP to mean 'original post' as opposed to 'original poster?'

                                                            I do make some Bengali and South Asian dishes, but by and large, the food that I cook has more to do with who was around me when I was learning to cook so heritage had little influence.

                                                        2. re: Pia

                                                          Pia, I'm kind of like your mother when it comes to describing how to make a dish. Nothing malicious or intentional, So I prefer to actually make a dish with someone who wants to learn how - but then that person can't turn their back just before I toss in the rest of the ingredients and cover the pot.

                                                          But I'm more often on the other, the learning side of the equation. I have often learned how to prepare something from a person who speaks a language that I speak only poorly or not at all. In such cases you can never turn your back on the action.

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            I THINK I'm watching her like a hawk, but somehow the dish suddenly gets done and I'm not quite sure what happened. Or it could be that I'm just convinced that I missed something, because it never comes out right when I try to duplicate her cooking at home. (Could also be that I don't have the right ingredients.)

                                                            Adrienne, I may take you up on your offer to advise -- thanks!

                                                            My project for this weekend (with a toddler at home, anything more involved than pancakes is a "project"):

                                                            1. re: Pia

                                                              What a lovely blog! I've got another fantastic version of tuna "kabobs" that I'm rather proud of, so feel free to email me if you'd like it. My email's in my profile. :o)

                                                              1. re: Pia

                                                                Pia, I'll have you know that I make your Alur Dom recipe all the time. I am not even Bengali and I have no clue what it tastes like when *you* make it. But all in my family love the way it turns out when I make it. I guess what I am saying is that in a lot of Indian recipes, no body actually tells you what signs to look for and what not to do. The student is assumed to be an accomplished practitioner of Indian cookery. It is frustrating. A few months after my brother got married, his wife asked my mom for her recipe for daal. She was shocked to find out that it was exactly the same recipe that she was already making. My mom smiled and said, "Sweetie, I've been trying to make daal taste the same as my mother-in-law's for 35 years. Welcome to the club!"

                                                          2. I'm of Chinese descent. I cook primarily Chinese-style dishes, but I also cook Western dishes as well . Nevertheless, the Chinese influence is very clear right down to the way I cut my meats and veggies. Even with Western dishes, knives are almost never used at our dining table.

                                                            1. I am second-generation Italian-American, and that is predominantly the cuisine I cook, both intentionally and unintentionally.

                                                              Intentionally in that I really enjoy the food and health benefits of an Italian/Mediterranean diet.

                                                              Unintentionally in that when I am just throwing together things in the fridge/pantry to make a dinner it just ends up Italian-y...

                                                              1. Mom was Norwegian, Dad was Irish. Fish, roasts and steaks were staples.

                                                                Sunday dinner was a major sit-down affair. Meals were neither Irish nor Scandinavian. Rather, they were mighty tasty affairs predicated on family and what was good at the butcher shop, fish monger, grocery store, whatever.

                                                                The food was always tasty, the table was always warm. There was a lovely sense of belonging. A few of my neighborhood buds continued to show up for Sunday dinner long after I left. I guess that's my heritage.

                                                                1. My ethnic heritage is Irish/German (Jewish)/German (gentile)/British-American-slash-Swiss, ranging from third generation (1900s) to sixth generation (1600s - long generations in the Brit-Am branch) immigrants. None of it has any bearing on what I cook, nor what my parents cook (with the exception of the Germanic Christmas roast goose with shredded potato stuffing of my childhood; and the pain salé sucré and petit pain du Rolle, the recipes for which are from the bakery in Rolle, Switzerland above which my maternal grandfather lived as a young child).

                                                                  1. I'm Korean-American, born and raised in NYC. My mom's parents were from Japan. So growing up we did eat quite a bit of Korean and Japanese food. And living in NYC, my mom had friends of many different cultural backgrounds -- so that made our way to our dinner plate as well. One of my favorite dishes as a kid was this Egyptian meat filo pie that my mom would make. After my dad had some heart problems early on, my family got all granola on me. Kombucha, whole grains, no red meat, etc. I remember it was such a treat to eat plain white rice. We would get it on our birthdays.

                                                                    Today I cook a variety of dishes. I love it all. I definitely cook a lot more Korean food than the average American. Would probably cook more Korean if DH was into it a bit more. He's not really too much into soups and stews (there is a lot more to Korean than BBQ). Think the last time I made a Korean dish was a couple of weeks ago when I made maeuntang (spicy fish soup). But so far this week (it's only Wednesday), I've made food originating from: India, China, France and Mexico -- and usually with a granola twist.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      Deb and I lived in South Korea for three years. Our son was born there. Korean food is comfort food. Family traditions are strong there. We go back from time to time.

                                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                                        Nice that you visit there occasionally. I haven't been back to Korea in a long time. I brought it up recently to DH and he looked a bit concerned when I said I wanted to stay there for about a week. His reason for concern was the food thing! He has liked many different Korean food items I have introduced him to. But he still hasn't really been able to get into it. Oh well ...

                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                          Can you twirl a needle into that part of his brain that houses the aversion to good food?

                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                              I wish. I would totally clean up just based on all the Chowhounds complaining about their significant others' food preferences!

                                                                            2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                              not korean but been there a couple of times recently. The food is delicious, inexpensive and diverse. If your husband likes sushi, that is abundant and terrific.

                                                                        2. "how many of you mostly prepare dishes from your cultural or ethnic heritage?"

                                                                          Me, definitely.

                                                                          I love to cook local, seasonal food in the typical local style.

                                                                          1. My heritage probably informs my cooking more so than me actually the food (Vietnamese). It's not that I don't know how to make the food so much as knowing too well how I want things to taste and how time consuming the food is to make. Therefore, without the "right" ingredients and the day(s) set aside, I just don't bother.

                                                                            I know it's blasphemy around these parts, but I don't enjoy cooking, not when the results is a giant pot of something or other that I'll be eating for the next month. Carbonara made properly with guanciale? Can be done for one or two and makes an appearance in my kitchen when I'm feeling indulgent. Delicious vegetarian spring rolls with yellow mung beans and grated taro? Might be one of my favourite items of all time, but I never make it. Giant pot of stock for pho that screams home and comfort? Won't make it EVER in my kitchen. Perfectly prepared nuoc cham (okay, can I say that I think it sounds weird to call it nuoc cham?) also won't be made in my home.

                                                                            This isn't to say that my heritage doesn't *inform* how I cook. When I make my pantry raids (which is pretty much all the time), the basic ingredients may be purely western, but the end results, from spices and such, always has a bit of an eastern (or French) slant. I once started out with the intent to make meatloaf and ended up with something more likely to be found in Asia, with its spicy/salty/slightly sweet flavouring better suited for eating with rice than plain.

                                                                            1. African American/Cherokee on my fathers side; Cherokee/Caucasian (don't know what, Grandmother was estranged from her father) on my mother's side. Parents born in North Carolina..I was raised in New York so my cooking is a combination of all the foods I was exposed to through the years. Because my family is from the south, I cook alot of southern & Cherokee inspired food, but being brought up in NY, I also cook foods from all ethnic backgrounds, including Italian, Asian, and Spanish.

                                                                              I lived in New Mexico for six years and fell in love with their food so I cook with a lot of peppers, masa, corn, etc. Once I became a teenager, I became fascinated with the food from other cultures so I pretty much am out there when it comes to cooking. I also like to experiment with fusion cooking...

                                                                              1. Mom is Korean and Dad is mostly Italian raised in Pa Dutch country. I grew up eating a ton of Korean food. My dad will eat anything (I kid you not) and prefers Korean food so we grew up eating mainly that. Mostly rice, various banchan and some sort of soup, or fried fish for a majority of our dinners.

                                                                                Nowadays I rarely cook Korean food. I try to broaden my horizons and cook a lot of south east asian foods, chinese, Japanese, south american, latin american, middle eastern, etc. I tend to stay away from Western food, but will cook it on occasion. I just have more fun cooking something I am not as familiar with.

                                                                                1. I usually describe myself as a mutt. I have lived most of my life in New Orleans; my father's mother was Sicilian, his father Cajun-French--but his mother, an excellent cook, cooked little Italian food, only spaghetti and meatballs or -sauce once a week; most of her other (short) repertoire was cajun-inflected (no doubt my granndfather's influence); the only thing my dad ever cooked were steaks on the grill, boiled seafood, fried fish that he caught, or breakfast.

                                                                                  My mother was born in Montreal, but she is English, Irish, and (American) Indian, and she grew up in an Italian neighbborhood in New York. Since she took over family cooking duties as a child, when her father died, her cooking was influenced by the neighbors. So I grew up eating a lot of (delicious) Italian-American fare as well as a lot of standard American (late 50s-early 60s style) fare. She did not like "spicy" food and though she cooked a few Cajun standards--gumbo and etouffee--they were not her forte. We also ate lots of fried and boiled seafood. We went out to New Orleans restaurants often, however, and in some of those I developed a taste for Northern Italian food, lobster, Chinese food. Visiting relatives as I was growing up, I discovered clams as well as Chinese food in NYC (which was far superior to anything we ever had in NOLA).

                                                                                  In college, I taught myself to cook but also learned to love Indian and Thai and Mexican food because it could be had relatively cheaply in restaurants. Then onto Middle Eastern food. As I've travelled across the country and to other countries, I've focused on food. I've had the opportunity on several occasions to rent apartments in different parts of Europe, and I've loved nothing more than being able to shop in their markets and cook with their foods. I also love Southern food and "soul food." Luckily I married a (midwestern born) man who, although his food tastes were pretty simple when I met him, has been always willing to try new things, to make food a key component of travel; he has developed a very sophisticated palate.

                                                                                  So all those things have influenced how I cook; people often ask me my "specialty," but I can't say I have one: I love cooking all kinds of food, all those I've mentioned as well as French and Spanish, with the occasional German thrown in. What I don't cook all that often, except for Indian, is Asian, mainly because what I can get out, whether Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, or Chinese, always seems so much better than what I can produce.

                                                                                  Sorry so long, but a mutt's heritage and influences--it's a complicated thing.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                    Not long at all, and fascinating. I love hearing about everyone's own cooking evolution!!

                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                      I married a man with an adventurous palate, too, and I'm extremely grateful for that. He came from a German-American midwestern background (big time- on both sides) and I thank my lucky stars that he's willing to try new foods, because most of his family is not at all like that.

                                                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                        I'm fortunate in the same way - husband is from Iowa, German/Irish, parents from Illinois - but he will eat just about anything (his mom is a fairly adventurous and vey good cook and demon grocery shopper). My brother-in-law by marriage (from IL) wouldn't last long in my house - no fresh veg, only canned, no spices, etc. I couldn't deal with it.

                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                          We lucked out, all right. *they clink their glasses together*

                                                                                          Plus my mom was a very adventurous cook, having had a personal epiphany tasting her first Caesar salad in her early 20s in Los Angeles in the '40s, and rarely looked back to Robinson, Illinois, where she was from. She cooked food and vegetables that most of my friends had never heard of, although she never did anything Asian that I recall, sadly, except for the ubiquitous stir-fry fad in the '70s. She subscribed pretty heavily to that.

                                                                                    2. I grew up with a very German father, heck I even had an Aunt Brunhilda, and all the food that came along with the heritage. I had a mother that came from grade A, American stock. To this day I Love German food and prepare it at home. I love sauerkraut, just about any pork, and absolutely adore schweinshaxe.

                                                                                      From my mother's background we were exposed to what many call soul food. I have come to believe that soul food, which many associate with ethnicity is more about where you came from. What I learned to cook from her, and her family is what I call just good country cooking. Nothing better than a pot of greens, some good cornbread, skillet cabbage, black eyed peas, or any bean for that matter. In my opinion country food involves eating what you had to eat when things were not that plentiful.

                                                                                      I remember going squirrel hunting with my grandfather and we would return home, clean the squirrels and my grandmother would fry them up with some good gravy. Now that was good.

                                                                                      My German grandmother was a fantastic baker. She could make the best cakes, pastries etc. I wish I had learned more from her. What is interesting is that when Thanksgiving rolled around we always preferred going to my mom's mothers house. Thanksgiving is an American meal, and as good as my other grandmother was at baking and German food she did not do Thanksgiving as well.

                                                                                      I am just Thankful I picked up many of my cooking skills and likes from both sides of the rich family that I come from.

                                                                                      1. My dad's side of the family was basically Welsh, Owen and Thomason; g-g-grandpa Thomason was born in Nashville in 1812, but they'd all been here a while. Mom's maternal side was Campbells from the 1700s and an Englishman ca. 1860; her dad's folks were German Mennonites on both sides, immigrated early 1800s for the most part. Grandma Owen and Grandpa Kuntz were the two best cooks in the family, Grandma because she had to do it and had a knack, and Grandpa because he loved it. His family's foods had not been particularly German except in attitude for a long time, as they had long been prosperous hog farmers in central Illinois; he preferred a cold egg-and-mayonnaise potato salad to the German sort, but leaf lettuce wilted with hot bacon, cream and vinegar made him weak in the knees. What he taught me was that any food anywhere is more likely good than not; he gave me my first smoked oyster, his favorite snack, but I had to ask for it. I just assumed that if he was eating it it had to be good, appearances notwithstanding. And that's how it's been all my life. Cultural leanings? Just to the rich, the vivacious, the savory, not so much the sweet. I love bright flavors, but some of my favorite things are a bit stodgy, like tuna-noodle casserole and potato pierogi. I guess I was just raised to be a total food whore, no loyalties, no boundaries...

                                                                                        1. Australian of mixed Med origin, adopted by WASP skippies, currently planning a move to Papua New Guinea.

                                                                                          Recently learned to cook pit-pit, a PNG staple, by stopping at a random road-side stall and asking questions


                                                                                          Will cook anything from pho to pulled pork.

                                                                                          And no, there is no such thing as "Australian Food" unless you want to re-ignite the indigenous foods debate.

                                                                                          And yes, I hunt, prep and cook Kangaroo, have eaten emu and possum (tastes like gristle marinated in mouthwash)

                                                                                          1. It's amazing how these ethnic food themes endure. Today I made chicken and noodles, my (easier) version of the favorite comfort food of my childhood, my great-grandmother's chicken and dumplings that I ate during the 1940's when she was in her seventies. She had learned to cook from her grandmother, born in Kentucky in 1824, and who knows how much farther back into the Appalachian past that dish went. Southern dumplings are often rolled like fat noodles rather than dropped into broth by the spoonful; my guess is that Scotch-Irish southern pioneers may have learned about noodles from their German neighbors, and that affiliation goes back to around 1700.

                                                                                            1. I grew up in Louisiana. My ethnic background is Creole French, French, Cajun, Black Irish, Spanish, English, Swiss, German and Southern US. I cook from all of those, particularly the Creole French, Cajun and Southern. My specialty is etoufée. I mostly learned to cook from my grandmothers, Mom, and our housekeeper. They cooked with lots of foods fresh from the garden, so cooking local and seasonal is just part of what I do. I've also added Italian, middle Eastern, Caribbean, and southwestern/Mexican foods to our menus as well as some Asian. We eat pretty eclectically.

                                                                                              Today we started out with cafe au lait, toast and homemade strawberry jam. The main meal was homecooking in honour of the Saints being in the Super Bowl: Creole Gumbo and Muffalettas (Central Grocery style). And as it is Carnival, up through Tuesday the 16th we will likely eat mostly Louisiana foods with a King Cake on Mardi Gras day.

                                                                                              1. I'm 4th Generation Kenyan Indian: my mother makes traditional food daily with the odd Italian or mexican dish as a change of scene. My approach is very different from hers, and I find more often than not I experiment a lot more with non ethnic foods on a daily basis, especially with hectic work schedules and traffic.

                                                                                                However as a nod to my Gujarati roots, I find that even with classic Western recipes, I add spices and herbs from the Gujarati pot....leading to a mish-mash and fusion of food. And like alot of Indian cooks I can rarely tell someone a detailed recipe of how I cook, generally I cook instinctively and by taste.

                                                                                                When I am ill tho, I revert back to traditional comfort foods from home: khichi when just exhausted, rice and yogurt for a delicate stomach, spicy daal when I have the flu etc etc

                                                                                                1. A very interesting thread, Danka, Lingua Food and it gives a better insight into many that I regularly read on Chowhound. Ethnically, I'm 100% Russian heritage (Grandfathers avoiding the Russo-Japanese War in 1905). I still make kapusta (saurkraut) from cabbage from my garden, grow cucumbers, onions and potatoes too, and I kolbasi, pickles and xren, Russian style horseradish sauce. It is funny, however, being raised in Pa and NJ, that I cook more than half the time is Sonoran style New Mexican food. During the 70's I lived in New Mexico and was adopt by my brother's in-laws and his SIL & MIL taught me how to cook. We often take posole to work for lunch and last night during the Super Bowel (sic) half time had a bowl of green chile fish soup. (and Sadies New Mexican salsa during the game. Stacked red chile enchiladas is my very favorite meal. As many stated above, I too am affected by my travels, nearly 17 years in the old USSR, Norway, Finland, Bolivia, Brazil and now the coast of Maine. I should have been more like my grandparents and avoided The Vietnam war, but I make a good pot of pho and a good ban mi. My 2 eldest sons (out of 5 kids) both teach English in Seoul, so a Korean influence has crept into my cooking, especially after a CARE package arrives of Korean food specialties arrives. As mentioned above, my family too is very surprised when I cook something w/out spice. I made majadito for my Bolivian adopted daughter Friday night. We often eat Norwegian style frokost bord style breakfasts and from my Russian roots, pickled herring and sardines for breakfast. And lastly form the coast of Maine I cook a lot of seafood that I buy directly from the boat via my students and I hunt and gather a lot of food too. Russian style pickled mushrooms from mushrooms picked in the Forest behind our house to the Norwegian style open faced Maine shrimp sandwiches we had Saturday night. Too much to list here and it's late.
                                                                                                  Good Night Moon

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    Whoa! Late night for you after the super bowel. Hope it had nothing to do with that '-)

                                                                                                    As always, interesting! You are probably one of the few people here about whom I had a pretty good idea, cooking wise, as you are always sharing about your food history and influences. Truly fascinating, Passa.

                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                      Well, well, well, Pdk, it seems we have even more in common than the mere love of Southwestern food. Hence, I lived in Gallup in 1977-78, much later took a Ph.D. in medieval Russian history, lived in NJ (Princeton) two years, and my wife is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

                                                                                                      Can't say I ever slugged it out with Charlie in The Nam, though. ;)

                                                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                        Ochen Horror Show, '77-'78 I was working as a Uranium miner at Church rock, to get money for my Ma.at UNM I will be eating a Navajo taco Friday night in LV. I grew up not far from Princeton and played pee wee hockey at the old Baker rink, near the tennis courts. My grandfather was a miner in McAdoo and I have a BA in Russian Studies from Muhlenberg. What the hell are you doing in Lubbock?
                                                                                                        NVA drilled me a second anal orifice.
                                                                                                        email me

                                                                                                      2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                        Pickeled mushrooms and mushrooms in general must be in my blood. I was born in Riga, Latvia and my mother was Latvian, My father was Russian and his mother influenced my cooking and love of Russian food. I grew up in Texas and love Tex-Mex and Mexican food in general but when I cook, I am influenced by my love of French food. As for Russian food, we always make Paskha and Kulich on Easter with various zakuska to go along with iced vodka, beer and wine. I must admit that I love food in general and like to try all different ethnic foods. Living now in Chicago, I am able to feed my fancy in all these geographic foods. Bon Appetite!

                                                                                                        1. re: igorm

                                                                                                          Have you ever read Janis Rainus the Latvian poet? I have beautiful paska molds, have ham, kolbasa, kapusta and xren for Easter. A bottle of vodka sitting in a block of ice was always a fixture on the Easter table. Ever have verisschka for Fat Tuesday? Veal lamb and pork in a gravy over a blini? Make pielmeni?

                                                                                                      3. TAM (Typical American Mongrel) with converging bloodlines from several European countries, Africa, and America.
                                                                                                        Father called his family Pennsylvania Dutch and was mostly meat and potatoes type, brought a lot of wild game (venison, elk, antelope, trout, bass, catfish, etc) to the table.
                                                                                                        Mother born and raised in the Imperial Valley Ca and brought a lot of border food to the table.

                                                                                                        So given my mixed heritage of course I cook a lot of Korean and Korean/American fusion dishes ;-P

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: hannaone

                                                                                                          Ha, but Hanna, you have a Korean wife, no?

                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                            Marriage has much more to do with the way I cook than heritage does.

                                                                                                        2. My heritage is Greek and I would say we cook about 70% of our meals in a Greek or at least "Mediterranean" style. It's not because that's what I grew up with - we had a mix of traditional american dishes and ethnic dishes more on the holidays and special occasions, but because I think it's healthier and tastier.

                                                                                                          There are those meals though that are decidedly non-Mediterreanan, such as barbequed ribs, and we enjoy those just as much. But when we're just looking at ingredients on-hand and how to prepare them, we usually tend towards a Mediterranean style.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                            See, my mom dated a Greek dude for about 19 years, which is why we have quite a bit of Greek/Mediterranean influence in our cooking. Just recently, we hosted a Mediterranean semi-potluck -- dishes prepared by my mom and me: patzaria me skordaliá, tarama, maroulosalata. My man is of Armenian/German background but cooks mostly Armenian stuff. So he made a ton of shish kebab -- leg of lamb cubed, marinated for 24 hrs. and grilled, as well as a bunch of dolma.

                                                                                                            It's all good. And frankly, I crave that kinda stuff a lot more than any German dishes I could think of.

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                Indeedio. But I didn't want to start that one all over again '-D

                                                                                                          2. Dutch .. first generation American so I grew up on a pretty standard Dutch diet... Lord knows the Dutch aren't exactly known for their cuisine, but I beg to differ ;) Grew up on a lot of potatoes and greens... of course loads of stamppot Van Boerenkool Met Worst (potatoes and kale w/ sausage) and nice hearty soups and really great sandwiches and sausage and slow cooked roasts and hutspot (potatoes and/or parsnip mashed w/ carrots, onions...)

                                                                                                            It has definitley influenced my cooking as I still continue to cook these things regularly, but the Dutch also had Indonesian influence which led me to show more of an interest in Indonesian foods than my parents and grandparents... which then led me to a variety of of other styles of cooking, Indian, Caribbean, Thai... My family appreciate the tastes of Indonesian foods but rarely prepared any dishes at home. I was so fascinated by their spices and textures when we would enjoy the food while back in NL...

                                                                                                            1. Grew up in PA; with English/Scottish ethnic heritage. Roast beef, ham & scalloped potatoes; baked beans etc.

                                                                                                              My father served in the Navy on a ship in the Pacific during WWII. I never had Chinese food until I was an adult. We didn't even have rice ~~ or lamd (they served mutton in the Navy)

                                                                                                              I remember two college friends in California looking at me in astonishment when I told them I had never tasted Chinese food.

                                                                                                              MIL was/is Sicilian and had GREAT influence on my cooking. the most influence

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                Aside from a few dishes, I would say my ethnic heritage (mishmash of German, Norweigan, Dutch and Danish) has very little to do with the way I cook. Perhaps mostly because I am a vegetarian! :) For example, my parent's parent's, from what I gather, rarely made food from the "old country." A few cookie recipes, spaetzle, that's about it. I don't think I've ever had one "danish" meal, either.

                                                                                                                That being said, I think the ethnic identity of the city I grew up in - Milwaukee - does influence it. For example, I used to love bratwursts (when I ate meat) and even now, I like the Boca Brats with saurkraut -- even though I never had them growing up .

                                                                                                                I think the main reason is just that my ancestors came over so long ago (1870s) that nothing much has been passed down, unless it remained strong in the community they lived in. The recipes I consider my "mom's" and replicate for comfort food aren't really Danish/German - they're things like her three-cheese mac-n-cheese, cabbage bread soup, veggie paella... all things she discovered for herself in the 1970's.

                                                                                                                My husband's ethnic heritage (Marathi) probably influences our daily meals more than mine!

                                                                                                              2. I enjoy many different kinds of foods and recipes, but at Christmas I must have poppyseed roll, and every once in a while I make sauerkraut and kielbasy.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: J.e.m.

                                                                                                                  Do you call the poppy seed roll kulach or kulachee?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                    This one I have now is a patica. When I was growing up, and now, we just call it poppyseed roll. I never heard my grandmother say what it's called in Slovak. What do you call it?

                                                                                                                    1. re: J.e.m.

                                                                                                                      In Slovak it is kulachi (kool-lach-ee).

                                                                                                                2. i am a transplanted korean, came to toronto, canada at age 12. then lived in states for last 5 years and travel regularly to europe (usually about 2-3 months a year; i am classical musician) (currently in UK, making oatcakes by boxes!)

                                                                                                                  i consider myself a canadian as most korean kids cant even tell i am one of them (as my bro says, 'whitewashed') and i shop all over the town- st. lawrence, k-town, annex, little somalia for my afrikaan spices, used to do greens box delivery. both of my bros are working in the kitchen (one at haute and one at a brassier) and moving out as soon as i could meant lots of trial and error.

                                                                                                                  i learn to cook like a war-generation korean from mom/granny (stretching every bits of things- lots of braising and stewing, many things fermented and salted- like salted shrimp or fish-guts condiments or homemade quick bean paste), mom also did all sorts of dashi and stock and till this day, i am always whipping out korean/japanese style soups in all seasons.

                                                                                                                  lots of multicultural influences (during the states university bits, i made friends with all sorts- i make mean feijoada and pozoles, and hotter-than-indian-gobi aloo and dark saag paneer. we taught one another to do ricecake-stirfry to baking baklavas. also lots of ramadan food (mmm) and joy of kaffeklatsch (i worked as barista for a while in three different continent).

                                                                                                                  from working in europe, i learned to appreciate lamburusco and parma ham, great bouillabaisse, german bread dense enough to stand on, how to pickle my own herring. ooh and some baking, though my signature dish for potlucks is a tres leches cake (taught by my costarican friend)

                                                                                                                  and from the grocery store, i cant help but to cheat once in a while and eat ramen noodles and fake chinese spring rolls. i like my nutella on grissinis (from milan working days) and often serve condensed milk toasts as pudding.

                                                                                                                  i cant be more thankful for my upbringing and the chance to really learn to cook in toronto, along with my travels. and i sure will be sneaking some sagederby on way back this time...

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                                                                                                                  1. re: eddielike2eat

                                                                                                                    Thanks, eddie! Another interesting food evolution!

                                                                                                                  2. I'm an American and Half Scots-Canadian and half Turkish. I make plenty of dishes from both sides, but I make more Turkish dishes than anything else. Lots of kebaps, and eggplant dishes, stuffed peppers and various other dolmas, boreks, and baklavas. And I always have plenty of plain yogurt on hand. Amusingly, my Mother the scots-canadian, taught me how to make borek and baklava. She's learned many tricks from the other Turkish friends we had. Many of the secrets shared were the family secret, but they thought my Mom should be given the recipes since she wasn't Turkish. SUbsequently she made some of the best ones.

                                                                                                                    However I make a lot of the more Scots Canadian dishes, especially in the winter. Like stews, and meat and veg type dishes.

                                                                                                                    1. I'm Irish from Kentucky, and I was raised mainly on "meat-and-three". I cook Mexican, Italian, Indian and Thai food mainly, and have recently taken on Falafel and Ethiopian food. I do some American/Irish/British things, but when I do, I try to go a little farther than what I was raised on. I am a vegetarian now, though, and that has lead me to a lot of different foods. I do go back to my childhood favorites occasionally, but there's so much out there, that I like going as far away as I can, before coming back.

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