||[Jul. 23rd, 2013|03:07 pm]
So, when I post to facebook that I'm struggling to decide which Connecticut stuffed cabbage dish I was going to bring to Moth Night....
I figured there were several launch points:
Wait, Connecticut & stuffed cabbage? How would Connecticut be a hotbed of stuffed cabbage? Because while there's a whole lot of WASP going on, there's also a whole lot of ethnic, in large variety, and always has been, and most people from outside of New England don't realize that. And, damn near every culture that has cabbage or cabbage like greens, has rolled some meat and stuff up in them.
And then Moth Night, what's moth night? Hey, it's actually moth WEEK. So, you should spend some time between now and Sunday appreciating moths. (Mostly nocturnal; have antennae that taper to a point or stay the same thickness, as opposed to butterfly antenna that are clubbed or tipped; wings are flat when at rest; underwings are actually hooked to the upperwings, as opposed to butterflies that fold under, well, under the uppers. Because you should know that difference.)
And then, wait what does stuffed cabbage have to do with moths? Duh. Moth Week. Food that looks like chrysalises. And mothball candies, which are way harder to find than they used to be.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about heritage -- when I decided on Lebanese styled stuffed cabbage and referenced my childhood roots, confusing a friend who had no idea I was Lebanese. Which I'm not. Half a mix of majority English, with a healthy dose of Scot and French (my people sleep with the enemy; it's in our GENES) and the other half is 50/50 German and Danish. I grew up in a Syrian and Lebanese neighborhood. It was easy for my parents to pick the little towhead out of that crowd of kids when we were roaming the neighborhood. (Yes, children, in the olden days, we didn't necessarily have playgrounds, we just roamed from yard to yard, wreaking havoc, er, playing. Mostly with sticks. And rocks. Sometimes we'd have chalk.)
And then we moved to an Italian neighborhood, where I still stuck out like a sore thumb, visually. Until finally landing in a more "classic" New England WASP-y dairy town. Although surrounded by towns with strong Polish, Italian and Lithuanian communities. And Portugese. So, my food tastes are more global than you'd think, growing up where I did, and working class, peasant-type food is where my food-psyche is happy.
And traditions/culture, I accumulated them like a hermit crab gluing bits of anemomes and sea life to its shell. But my own cultural heritage was pretty much limited to English and German. The Scots and French had dropped off surnames on my family tree, but were otherwise subsumed by English culture. And while there was a lot of German going on (including the gift of the Scold Finger and an unnatural fondness for potatoes and butter. And Christmas trees. And beer) Not so much with the Danish. We had some Christmas tree ornaments, butter cookies...and foods that I would not eat -- pickled herring and beef tartare, mostly. Raw eggs, capers. ::Shudder::
So, really, the only thing that ever felt strongly Danish about me was my last name. My mother says "the charm. The charm, that "up to something" grin that you and your father, and his father and everyone in that damn family had", and a particularly, pigheaded, mule-ish stubbornness."
Until I read this in an article: A love of or need for hygge is an important part of the Danish psyche. Hygge is usually inadequately translated as "coziness." This is too simplistic: coziness relates to physical surroundings — a jersey can be cozy, or a warm bed — whereas hygge has more to do with people's behavior towards each other. It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one.
Psyche-wise? Damn near totally Danish.