As the food stratosphere continues to change at a national level, Austin’s food blogging scene is closing the generational gap with culturally significant plates served in the home kitchen. Three Austin food bloggers, Kay Marley-Dilworth, Amy Kritzer and Sahar Arafat-Ray have embraced their heritages (Mexican, Jewish and Palestinian, respectively) by bringing family recipes back to the table.
An image that ignites a food memory, a taste that transports you back to your childhood or a familiar aroma that reminds you of a cooking experience from years past. Sadly, sensory driven food memories of family kitchens have been lost as current generations prefer pre-packaged meals over home cooking.
Kay, Amy and Sahar shared similar food loving stories at SXSW SouthBites this week. They may convince you to get you back into your grandmother’s cookbook.
Just About Anything Can Go Into a Tortilla
Kay Marley-Dilworth learned of traditional Mexican cuisine from the strong matriarchs of her family. “They empowered me by showing me how to cook food from our culture.”
A well-connected blogger, wife and mother, Kay now does what it takes to teach her son the importance of home cooking and what it means to their family. Staying connected digitally through her blog, she is also able to speak to others about her love for food, the importance of the cultural connection and keeping cooking in the home. “The connection fostered my sense of pride and identity,” Kay shared.
Introducing your children to something as simple as a tortilla or a bowl of queso early on can make a difference. Kay recalled a memory (which happens to be one I can relate to), when a family member spread peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla and folded it in half as a sandwich.
Of her son she exclaimed, “Dare I hope that he love barbacoa as much as I do?!”
You can follow along with Kay’s busy life and food adventures at ATX Food News.
Family Recipes Don’t Have to Live Within Confines
Amy Kritzer always writes with humor and absolute love for food, her family and her heritage. Her blog, What Jew Wanna Eat, is an active spot to receive tips and an updated outlook on traditional Jewish recipes.
Reaching an audience looking for fresh ideas, Amy is fearless with recipes such as Matzo Nachos, Power Greens Matzo Ball Soup, Matzo Bark and a slew of flourless desserts for Passover. “Some people are really against altering the recipes, but I think you should use ingredients that are available to you.”
She may have removed herself from the proverbial box, but Amy’s relation to her background and the memory of being in the kitchen with family members are still important. Authenticity has its place, even in a modern cook’s home.
In many cultures, the holidays are a time for tradition. Amy agrees: “There are some things that cannot be altered, like Challah bread because it is a holy bread.”
Amy spoke a great deal about the fact that food and fun should be synonymous. She mentioned some of her favorite fusions, like experimenting with beef tongue and syncing with a Texas tradition of breakfast tacos using potato latke. “You just embrace what you remember…for us it was sitting around the table with bagels and the Sunday paper.”
Remembrance and Learning in the Kitchen
Sahar Arafat-Ray formed early memories from her experience and trials with food, and now is a seasoned expert in both home and professional kitchens.
By the age of 12, Sahar was learning the art of the kitchen and grasping the cultural connection to her Middle-Eastern heritage that home cooking brought to her and her sisters. Sahar’s family, although experimental in the kitchen, was driven by traditional recipes.
When asked about wildly non-traditional hummus recipes being introduced to the mainstream, there may have been a long pause and a bit of laughter from the panel.
I was able to closely relate to some of Sahar’s educational memories of food and family. Leveraging the time they spent together cooking and at the table, conversations were sparked that taught her about her cultural roots and the difficulties past generations faced. These are important lessons to discover over a table full of food that connects you to the family members of your past.
After a successful career in kitchens, Sahar now shares her skills, recipes and stories on her blog, TartQueen’s Kitchen. She is making memories of her own in the kitchen and experimenting with ingredients.
Feeling adventurous? Get signed up for Central Market’s cooking school where Sahar teaches hands-on classes.
Whether out of nostalgic happiness, pride-filled memory of tradition or respect for your past, be sure to celebrate times spent sharing food at your family’s kitchen table.
@CrisMueller wants to know:
What is your family’s heritage and how is it evident in your home kitchen?