Sharing your family heritage
- I'd like to share a project that one branch of my family did this
past year. We have annual family reunions of my Musil/Slovacek side
with the accompanying visiting & eating. Last year my aunt Gladys
proposed compiling a "family heritage cookbook" and I volunteered to
be the one to put it together. We hoped to get at least 1 or 2
recipes from each of the families - over a period of 2-3 months, I
received over 350 recipes from my relatives! The cookbook wound up
covering over 200 pages, and one of my cousins designed the cover.
Many of the recipes are truly family heirlooms: kolaches, prune
dumplings, bread, strudel, cakes, preparing sausage, etc. All of the
old recipes were sent along with stories of our ancestors which were
included in the book.
What I feel made this book special was not only the memories that
were shared but Aunt Gladys submitted a dedication (16 pages typed!)
in the form of excerpts of almost 20 years of letters from my
grandmother Adyna Slovacek Musil to her that went into exquisite
detail of her daily life, who came to visit on a particular day and
what food was served at meals. I never knew these letters existed
until I began working on this project. Not only did my aunt keep
every single letter from her mother, but when my grandmother died,
she discovered that every letter she sent to my grandmother was kept
in a box. (I'm trying to get Aunt Gladys to let me transcribe the
The cookbook project took a lot of time, since I also did the
arranging of recipes and printing, but it was truly a labor of love.
Someday when my typing fingers are recovered, I hope to compile a
similar cookbook for the other side of my family (Darilek/Cuba).
At the very least, shadow your mothers, aunts, grandmothers when they
cook and try to write down how they prepare your favorite foods.
You'll never regret it.