What was your childhood Thanksgiving like? Have any of the foods or practices become a tradition in your family? Have you ever thought about whether a certain dish has been passed down thru the family over the years?
I’ve often wondered that about a couple of dishes at our family thanksgiving dinners: scalloped oysters and pecan pie.
Since my great-grandmother’s Hammond family was from New England, I have often thought that her heritage is what put the oysters on the table at Thanksgiving. However, as I read the early Dodge City papers for family information, I saw quite a few ads for oysters in the grocery stores. This made me question my theory about how they ended up on the Thanksgiving table.
A search of the Dodge City papers for ‘scalloped oysters’ turned up a recipe very similar to what my grandmother used that was published in 1881.
While scalloped oysters may be something handed down over the years thru the Hammond family, it is also possible that oysters became a popular dish in land-locked Dodge City. Thus, a recipe my great grandmother may have learned to cook and passed on to her daughter-in-law.
The second potential family dish is pecan pie which suggests a southern lineage. My grandmother’s grandmother, Angelina Burke Currey, had southern roots. However, she died before my grandmother was born. Thus, I doubt that a family dish was passed down by Angelina thru her son to her granddaughter.
My suspicion is that pecan pie was added to the menu when my grandmother found a recipe and tried it. That suspicion is supported by the article, A Brief History of Pecan Pie. This history asserts that a recipe began to be distributed nationally by Karo Syrup.
A search of the Dodge City papers confirms that a recipe for pecan pie was printed in 1926.
Thus, the two dishes served during my childhood likely are the result of recipes in the local newspapers and not family traditions.