Monday, June 14, 2010

something old, something new: incorporating family traditions through new food ways

One of my newest fave blogs is The Hindsight Bride...she had a truly lovely, beautiful, handmade wedding celebration (on a serious budget...but you'd never know it!)  She will be guest blogging this week while my husband and I are busing driving from Arizona to New our new our next adventure.   Thank you for sharing!

I love the whole idea behind weddings. And by the “whole idea,” I mean the idea that two separate families are coming together and essentially becoming one. Food ended up being the unifying theme when our families met for the first time. I knew this would be the case. When we announced our engagement (and our tiny budget) both moms immediately began talking about a family potluck wedding. Woohoo! All the family members would contribute! On the menu: Baba’s dinner rolls, lasagna, coleslaw, portuguese sweet bread, carved ham and turkey (It’s an old-school Italian-American thing), chocolate tofu cake (his parents were hippies,) Dean’s famous black beans... We had quite a smorgasbord planned.

But after the initial rush of excitement, we trembled with awe and terror at the logistics (and stresses) of planning a 100-person wedding on a shoestring with like a bazillion other DIY projects planned. You see, making a couple dozen of Baba’s dinner rolls is manageable. But a couple of hundred? And do we have enough kitchen space to make and entire dinner for 100? Yikes! The answer ended up being an unequivocal, resounding, “No!” In the end, we had a catered BBQ dinner (Still highly appropriate for the Southern mountains.

But family food-ways manifested in other ways. My in-laws threw a down-home rehearsal dinner with their specialties: chicken and apple sausage, coleslaw, and black beans and rice. While it’s not a typical “southern-themed” dinner, it highlighted some of their signature dishes. For desert? Tofu Chocolate Cake. (It’s delicious. And the trick to fabulous tofu chocolate cake is not telling the guests it’s made from tofu until after the oohs and aaahs have subsided.) My family also chipped in.

My Mom made  well over 100 Italian Wedding Cookies and 12 loaves of Portuguese Sweet Bread for the wedding. I made the wedding cake with my grandmothers cake pans. And the day after, my-brother-the-chef made his signature ratatouille--we call it Craig-a-touille. For our favors, I made giant Italian wedding cookies and gave them to guests along with my Great Grandma Brescia’s traditional recipe.

In hindsight, I wish I had done more to celebrate and honor the importance of food in our families. With out (of course) trying to self-cater a 100-person wedding reception. Two ideas that come immediately to mind:

1. Family Recipe Book Favors: When Hindsight Groom and I announced our engagement, the Moms were so excited to share their recipes and food-ways. I wish I had honored their enthusiasm with recipe book favors, adding short family bios and histories where appropriate. Perhaps it would have given the guests something to talk about. At the very least it could have been an intra-family ice breaker. 

2. A Tasting Buffet for the Rehearsal Dinner/ Day-after dinner: Scale was the biggest obstacle for incorporating family foods into the actual wedding. But we had a more manageable 15 people for the rehearsal and day-after dinners. While we certainly took turns cooking our specialties, it would have been more fun to plan out a family potluck or tasting buffet. I can just imagine, in my DIY craze, creating a sign-up menu on a wiki or Google Docs and designing labels for each dish.


  1. Great ideas! We would have loved to host a potluck wedding as well, but as you said, the logistics alone would be a huge job. But the groom's mom plans to cook some food so we can incorporate his Lebanese culture into the wedding, so everyone's excited about that. Love the recipe books!

  2. I love the idea of the potluck wedding and ways to scale it back.

  3. Love that Family Recipe book idea. Looove it.

  4. Love those ideas! Sharing recipes in a family is a must-do!



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