Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Who Are You? by Marta Perry

Who are you? How would you answer that question? Maybe with your name, maybe with your family relationship, as in, "I'm Lorie's mother," at a PTA event. Maybe with your profession--I'm a writer. (Which always leads to the follow-up questions, either "What do you write?" or "Would I have heard of you?") Maybe you'd answer with the facets of life that are important to you: "I'm a child of God; I'm a wife, mother, and grandmother; I'm a writer."

Dig a little deeper. Where do you fit on your family tree? Oldest, youngest, middle child? Daughter, niece, aunt, granddaughter? Sister? The child of recent immigrants with strong ties to another culture? Or a family so completely Americanized that little is left of their country of origin?

Whether you have an interest in genealogy or not, looking into your family tree can net some fascinating results, not only showing you where you come from but also to some extent how you fit into the pattern of your family's life over the generations. My maternal ancestors, for instance, came to the colony of Pennsylvania in the early 1700s, along with a flood of immigrants from Germany and German-speaking areas of Switzerland. They were farmers, lured by William Penn's promises of abundant farmland and freedom to worship as they wanted, both of which would have been impossible had they stayed were they were. It makes sense, looked at from that point of view, but I sometimes wonder if I'd been brave enough to exchange the familiar for the unknown, no matter how promising!

But my ancestors were made of sterner stuff, so they came, they settled, and they thrived. They became known, through a misunderstanding of the language, as the Pennsylvania Dutch, even though there's nothing Dutch about them! They brought with them their low German language, their religious beliefs, their traditional arts and crafts, and their gift for good cooking. Even today, the recipe I use to make my family's favorite home-made noodles is the same as that used by those thrifty German farm-wives, who knew how to make something delicious from very little.

If you'd like to give it a try, here it is:


Beat together one whole egg and three yolks. Add flour until a stiff dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured board and let rest for 15 minutes. Using flour as needed, roll out to a paper-thin sheet. Cover with tea towels and let dry for several hours. Then cut into quarters; roll up each quarter jelly-roll style and slice as thin as possible. Shake out the rounds of dough into noodles. Simmer in chicken brother for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The broth will thicken and the noodles become soft. The dish can be served in bowls but the traditional method is to put the noodles on top of mashed potatoes for an extra-starchy treat!

What's your traditional family dish? Don't forget to pass the recipe on to your children, whether they think they want it or not. One day they'll appreciate it!

No comments: