Food and genealogy

+4 votes

A question was posted on the Hesse, Germany Genealogy Facebook page regarding recipes from the area and got quite a few comments.  Then came across the English publication YOUR FAMILY HISTORY (Oct 2017 issue) at the local book store and there is an article "Food Glorious Food: How Our Ancestors Cooked, What They Ate, And How It Affected Their Lives", p.20. Was wondering if other people have gotten interested in various regional/ethnic foods of your ancestors.  I easily go off on tangents and have started collecting French-Canadian/Acadian/Cajun & Franco-American cookbooks as well as those dealing with early American and medieval periods. Have any of you done this?

in The Tree House by James LaLone G2G6 Mach 5 (58.0k points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
Yes! Yes! Yes!  I cook from a variety of regions and have found some unusual correlations between where my ancestors were from and my food preferences.  I need to study recipes better to perhaps pinpoint foods more specifically than just country, but I get your point.  Just as an example, I like to mix yogurt in with my oatmeal instead of boiling water and found that that is a Scandinavian practice.  When I had my DNA tested I came up with the surprise that my ethnicity included something like 13% Scandinavian.  I even started a blog to collect all my recipes.  I have a group of internet friends and every year we go on a "Cuisine Quest" where we virtually visit 6 countries and cook recipes from them.  It is a great way to learn about different cooking methods and foods.  It is really good fun.

One thing that bothers me, is that our food today is very different than even in our grandparent's time.  Chicken is far plumper and less flavorful than years ago.  So much of our food is raised for profit and not for health.  I garden, and you would not believe the flavor difference between food I grow and food I buy.

Also, my sister and I looked at a website (which I can't remember, but am meaning to look up again) that suggested foods to eat and foods to avoid based on your DNA. I am pretty sure I was annoyed because everything I like is on the avoid list, but I'd like to have another look into it.

You remind me that I really am not making good use of Facebook.  I should use it more for genealogy (and genealogy-related recipes!)
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (545k points)
Lucy, what is the URL of your blog, sounds interesting? Thanks.

It's not a good read, just recipes:


Thanks Lucy, I maintain our local genie society Facebook page so just posted something about food & Thanksgiving and added your interesting blog URL.
+5 votes
I took an Anthropology class in college where the instructor told us about lutefisk and other ethnic Norwegian foods.  From that class I determined that we ate no ethnic foods, probably because my lines were all here for so many centuries (e.g., 1600s and 1700s, with my last recent immigrants arriving in the mid-1800s from England and Ireland).
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (204k points)
I think all foods are ethnic foods in one way or another.  But in the US a lot of food is regional.  People in different parts of the country eat differently.  As an example, people in Pennsylvania have a strong German influence in their cooking.  I think it's Wisconsin that is influenced by Scandinavian cuisine.  Texas has a lot of Mexican and South American influences.  New York has a pizzeria on every corner.  The South eats more fried foods than say, California.

A couple of books along that line are: Food in History by Reay Tannahill, and - 100 Million Years of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today, by Stephen Le.

I majored in Anthropology and was interested in Native Americans, the tangent of that was collecting books dealing with Native cuisine and collecting Michigan Anishnaawbe genealogies.  Also have my kitchen/dining room & family room decorated with Native art & crafts.


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