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  • Writer's pictureAccokeek Foundation

Food Traditions and the Holidays

photo credit: Hilary Schwab

photo credit: Hilary Schwab

Food. When I begin to think about the holidays, it is impossible to do so without thinking about food and all of its deliciousness! We all have very specific food traditions unique to our families and households, based on our culture and the specific region we come from. Born and raised in Southern Maryland (Charles County), I have very fond memories of my family’s holiday meals. These meals were a time for us to visit my grandparents’ houses. Thanksgiving was all about the turkey and its trimmings, corn pudding, collards and greens, cranberry sauce, potatoes of every variety, 7-UP salad (a family recipe similar to watergate or ambrosia salad, but SO MUCH BETTER!) and crescent rolls. Christmas and Easter were traditionally when we’d have the stuffed ham. My grandmother made a killer stuffed ham, a recipe I’ve tried for many years since her passing to find and replicate without success.

When Matt mentioned a few years ago that he would be adding Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham to his Foodways recipe box, I was elated! I hadn’t thought about my grandmother’s stuffed ham as a regional food tradition, just something we ate with gusto at our family holiday dinners. We’ve debated many times over the origins of the stuffed ham recipe, battling between St. Mary’s and Charles County (a debate I fear will go unresolved for eternity.) Either way, it’s an inarguable food tradition for me and many other Southern Marylanders. And, even though his is not quite like my grandmother’s (I think the missing key ingredient is “Grandma’s Love”), it’s a fine enough substitution.

Foodways spectator helps Matt and Coleen prepare the stuffed ham.

Foodways spectator helps Matt and Coleen prepare the stuffed ham.

If you’re interested in watching Matt’s final presentation of “The Way of Food” this month he’ll be preparing the time-honored tradition, Southern Maryland Ham, on Saturday, November 16 at the farm. While meal preparations will begin early in the morning, lasting throughout the day (just like grandma did!) the best time to observe the final stages of preparation will be between 11 am – 1 pm.

What food traditions does your family have during the holidays?

Share with us your food stories or memories on Facebook or email them to us (food pics are always deliciously welcomed.)

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