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Family Food Traditions

What are your favorite family food traditions?

Making your own root-beer? Green-eggs and ham on Saint Patty's? Making Sour Cream and Onion Potato Latkes for all the neighbors during Chanukah?

Visiting the same bric-a-brac diner to celebrate all family birthdays?

You may think that something as simple as, let's say, visiting the same diner time and again with your family, isn't all too important in the long run. But remember, these traditions are as much a part of you as are those blueberry pancakes in your stomach. These traditions become a vehicle for transmitting your culture. Sometimes even your family identity.

This week's episode of The Generations Project features some awesome Italian Food. Deanna, star of this week's episode tries to find a connection with her great-grandparents who were killed in a fire decades before she was born. She honors their legacy by preserving the beloved family recipe - pasta con sarde. (Watch her make it.)

What food traditions did your parents institute? Which will you continue with your family? Which have you stopped carrying on? And how has having family food traditions made you feel like you were connecting with your culture or family?

Lastly, how much do you love authentic Italian pasta?

Pasta Con Sarde

1) Finely chop two medium sized onions.
2) Mince 2 cloves of garlic.
3) Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat until translucent.
4) Add in one head of fennel, chopped medium.
5) Sauté fennel until translucent.
6) Add one flat tin of sardines.
7) Stir into paste.
8) Separately, boil pasta until al dente (be sure to salt the
water with a big pinch of salt).
9) Chop 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
10) Combine the sautéed paste with the pasta in a bowl.
11) Throw in chopped parsley, toss all together until it is
fully combined.
12) Serve and enjoy

13) And tell us what you thought of it.
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What’s Your Name? (Who’s your Daddy?)

Almost immediately after something is created or discovered it is given a designation, a title—a name. The only exception to this would be the brooding artist who doesn’t want to name their artwork. (Ironically, their piece ends up being titled “Untitled,” so the joke is on them.)

But nowhere are names more important then when they are assigned to people. Some parents name their children after relatives as a way to honor or continue a legacy. Others choose names based on what has a nice “ring” to it. Then there are those who are named because their number is up. I fall into this third category.

My parents named me Dallas. That’s right, Dallas, as in ‘Texas,” “The Cowboys,” and the popular, prime-time soap from the 1980s. I got my name a few hours after I was born. Up until that time, my parents couldn’t decide on a name. They threw around “Adam” for a while but they weren’t sold on it. While still in the hospital, my mother, in frustration decided to go for a walk. Before she left, she threatened my father to “find a name for this boy or so help me!” My father frantically went through the book of baby names but found nothing. His anxiety grew as he heard footsteps coming down the hall and a shadow creep under the doorway. He knew that behind that door was a tired and hormonal woman ready to pounce. In desperation, he plopped the book down and let the pages fall open. He drew his finger and blindly pointed at the page. “Dallas” is where it landed (It could be worse, he could have landed on “Jeeves.” If so, I would have an entirely different career path).

Despite all the quips that come with a geographical name, I am happy that I have it. It is unique, and having a unique name has its benefits. For one, I have top pick of usernames when I create an email address. Best of all, the pressure is off. I have no namesake to live up to! On the contrary, I have the opportunity to create a namesake and legacy for my descendants. I have a responsibility to live in such a way that my descendants will be forced to consider “Dallas” as a possible option to name their kids (and I get to laugh from the sidelines as my progeny’s classmates learn that “Dallas” spelled backwards is “salad” with an extra “L”).

On an upcoming episode of The Generations Project, middle-school teacher John Searcy embarks on a journey into his family history to discover his namesake and legacy. Watch his episode to see what interesting things he finds out about the power of a name.

And speaking of the power of a name, how does your name influence your life? Or do you subscribe to Juliet’s observation that, "That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet"?
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Family Fact or Family Fiction?

All families have their stories. And as time passes these stories often morph from a run-of-the-mill account into a Paul Bunyanesque tall tale. Especially in a family full of hams like mine. The trick then becomes distinguishing fact from fiction in our family history.

One of my favorite family legends is about old Aunt Maud, my mother’s great aunt. As the story goes, an 80-year-old Aunt Maud loaded her frail body into her Caddy one dry Las Vegas night for a joy ride. And as she peeled through the sagebrush and open desert at bank-robber-like speeds, she flew by a police officer.

Compelled by the law, the police officer attempted to pull Maud’s Cadillac over. But flashing lights and sirens did little to deter old Maud, and she led the officer on a chase through the desert. When she finally pulled over the officer demanded Maud get out of the car. We can all only imagine his surprise when a tiny woman, old enough to be his grandmother, exited the car in her nightgown. We also can only imagine his even greater surprise when he approached the old woman, and she crumpled up her papery fist and popped him one in the nose.

Now, this is how I learned the story when I was a little girl. And I’ve always loved Maud’s moxie. But now that I’m a little older, if not a little wiser, I realize that Aunt Maud probably had dementia. And this tale of guts and glory is probably more accurately interpreted as a warning to my waning mind. But does that make the story any less valuable?

In an upcoming episode of The Generations Project adventurer Vicki Biss decides to follow a family story to its roots to determine once and for all what is fact, and what is fiction. See what unravels as she explores.

How important is it to you that your decedents have accurate information about your life? Or is it more important to you that they have a good story?

Be sure to tune in for Vicki’s story to see what she uncovers, and don’t forget to weigh in on your opinion of family fact vs. family fiction.