Blog Archive

Family Foods


Wednesday night, June 11th, writer Laura Silver will come to the Museum to discuss her book Knish, wherein she goes on a round-the-world quest to discover the origins and modern-day manifestations of her ancestral pastry.

This got us wondering, what dishes remind you of childhood or your family history?

We asked some of our Tenement Staff which tastes bring them back, and here are their answers:

Biscuit recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, which is memorized by this point.

“I grew up in Alabama, where biscuits are basically a sacrament. Biscuits are fluffy chameleons that can (and should) be served with every meal – covered in white gravy for breakfast, with plenty of butter and honey for lunch, and used as a cold sop alongside a heap of pulled pork for dinner. Mix a little sugar into the dough, and you’ve got a cobbler topping for dessert! This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens is basic enough to cover all your needs. And because every Southerner has their own special biscuit process, I suggest not touching cream of tartar with a ten foot pole and I prefer cold butter or lard to vegetable shortening.” – Lib Tietjen, Evening Events Associate


Another mother looking out for her child's taste buds. This mother offers her son a bite of a hot dog at Coney Island in 1938. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

“My mother has five daughters. Consequently, she spends days before family gatherings preparing the favorite foods of each of her children. Mine has always been the same: dumplings. As a child, I watched my mom spend hours hand-making her dumplings, which involved a process of chopping, sautéing, mixing, squeezing, straining, and seasoning. Then we would sit at the table together, and she would help me hand fold the dumplings. She would immediately fry up a few for me to eat and freeze the hundreds of other dumplings we would make that day. As an adult, my tastes have changed a bit (rarely do I eat a dumpling), but it’s still the only food I ask for when I go home.” – Tricia Kang, Marketing Manager

Readers today can search online for images of Western Norway. This image is a cigarette card from 1919 as part of a series of exotic locales. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.


“When we visited my grandparents in a small town on the western part of Norway, my grandfather made sandwiches of rye and pumpernickel bread together with Norwegian goat cheese, which is brown and sweet and it’s an acquired taste… like peanut butter.

And my grandmother had huge bowls of yellow raspberries, which are my favorites to this very day.” – Arnhild Buckhurst, Director of Operations




“When my Great Aunt Laura makes me Mandal Bread it never lasts long. I’m barely saved by the injunction to let them harden for a few hours before or I gobbled them up. My Aunt Laura learned the Mandelbrodt recipe from her mother. She explained they were Jewish Biscotti and a little research showed they may indeed be a Eastern European relation of those “twice baked” Italian cookies. The ingredients are flexible and the cookies are crunchy.

Julia spoke to her Aunt about their family history and while her kitchen now is full of modern convenience some of the Bericks passed through tenements in New York with kitchens just like this one photographed in 1935. Photo Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

My favorite addition is chocolate chips. What’s better than when the new world meets the Old? My Aunt Laura has traveled all over the globe and the best thing is to sit at her kitchen table with a pile of mandel bread, a cup of tea, and hear all about it .” -Julia Berick, Marketing and Communications Coordinator



– Posted by Lib Tietjen, and the Tenement Staff