Every now and then I hear a story about the secret code of ancestral DNA and how it shapes our being and I’m fascinated. There are sad tales of sickness and addictions handed down through the generations, remarkable stories of exceptional talent running deeply through a family line and quirky bits where relatives separated by years or lineage learn that they share a common habit or interest.
I’m certain that I’m affected by some form of all three but I’m focused on the latter.
Our Thanksgiving was tender. I was able to travel with my family to the home of my 94 year old grandmother to spend the holiday. The kids played soccer and baseball in the yard. We snuck out to get in a workout, went to a late-night hockey game, and caught up on the comings and goings since we last got together. Our meal was traditional. We always include a family specialty of Elsie’s Cranberry ice and I made the pot-luck yams. The kids feasted on turkey sandwiches in the aftermath and I put away a few pot pies as easy meals for my grandma.
As my husband reached into a utensil drawer to help out in the kitchen, he first noticed it. “Look at this.” He was holding a fork with a wooden handle. Truly, it’s nothing remarkable. It’s just that when you reach into the utensil drawer at our home, you’d find the same one and it’s likely my most commonly used kitchen device.
This four tine kitchen fork with a worn wooden handle slides gracefully into my hand and is always used to pierce egg yolks, flip sizzling summer squash or test the doneness of a grilled item for the kids. It’s old. It’s simple and despite a lovely kitchen filled with gadgets, it’s what I reach for. And the other funny thing is, that it probably came from her kitchen but it’s been so long ago that I’ve forgotten.
Can a kitchen tradition like reaching for an old wooden handle fork run through our DNA? It might seem a stretch but not one that I’m willing to discount. I really believe that the reason it is so natural, is because it has been so natural for her and it’s likely that I began observing that at a very young age. In her book, The Sweeter the Juice, Shirley Taylor Haizlip, an African American, found white relatives who had no idea of their black heritage yet had a deep admiration for African art displayed throughout their home. I wonder what she might’ve found had she opened the kitchen drawer? I wonder what other quirky habits I have that I can point to the family tree for having developed. How about you?
Is there something that you do in the kitchen that’s been handed down without knowing?