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Bridging Generations in the Kitchen

Who spent time in your kitchen this holiday? If I had to guess, I’m willing to bet there were several generations mulling about, sharing time at the stove. The holidays might be the best time for it, but the idea of generations in the kitchen coming together can happen year-round. But why is it so important?

Passing Down Recipes and Techniques

Older generations have recipes and techniques that run in the family and might not be carried on once they’re no longer around. But those are some of the best recipes. They’re the ones requested at all the special dinners and longed for until their next appearance on the table. It’s those recipes that don’t have real measurements, or if they do, they’re hastily written on the back of a business card…in pencil. These are the recipes and techniques that need to be carried on for the good, or at least the delight, of the entire family.

Foods that Older Generations Ate

Although they might not be as popular today, knowing what food your elders ate can offer important clues and connections to your family’s history. For my family it was foods like pig feet, hog maws, and liver and onions. Maybe for your family it was a certain potato dish or a handmade pasta or dumpling. Either way, knowing what they ate and having a conversation with them about it can reveal lots of things you might not have known otherwise.

Foods That Younger People Eat

While liver and onions might not be my thing, I understand that older generations sometimes ate organ meats because it was all they could afford and they made the best of it. Likewise though, most of my elders know nothing about kale and quinoa, for example. Without being pushy, I do like to sneak in alternative foods for them when I can at the family potlucks. Not only are they typically a bit healthier, but they might find that they like them just as much.

Bridging the Gap

As with anything, a good mix of the old and new, younger and older generations in the kitchen is the best. So next time you’re in the kitchen, pull up a chair for the eldest family member and a stool for the youngest. They’ve got a lot to learn from each other and after all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

What about you? What’s the one recipe that runs in your family that everyone, young and old, knows how to make?

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