family cooking food together in kitchen

Creating Family Food Traditions

Family traditions are a wonderful bonding opportunity. They can be carefully planned out or come from a spontaneous family "in-joke" that evolves into something regular. However they come about, traditions are part of creating a family culture, and they set the tone for your collective identity. For instance, there are families that have annual Christmas sweater photo shoots, you know, the quirky ones. Or families that have a closely guarded recipe, only served at very special occasions.  

Traditions also strengthen your family bond, teach values and add spice to the routine of everyday life. So, if you are looking for a family food tradition to add to your menu, we have a few tips we think are worth a mention – the rest is up to you. 

Start with the food you grew up eating  

The recipes you know and love are a great place to start when forming a food tradition. The best place to find inspiration is from your fond experiences. You may need to wrack the brains of your older or extended family, scour through piles of family cookbooks and listen to the stories of your parents and elders. No matter where they come from, use these meal memories to find something that has an emotional attachment and your tradition is more likely to stick. 

Get into the archives and memories 

A good recipe takes time to perfect – especially since tastes are different from family to family and even generation to generation. Take the recipes you have collected from your family, friends and any other sources and begin to experiment. Mix it up, chop and change and adapt your recipes until it’s absolutely perfect before you put it to the test. 

Think about what makes you tick 

Tweak the stuff you grew up with and the stuff you have researched to include or exclude the things you and your family favour. It's okay for food to evolve as it goes along. It's likely that your great granny's traditional curry recipe , is not the same now as when she used to make it for your granny – and that's okay. It's the spirit of your recipe that really counts, so don't be afraid to pioneer your practices.

Practice makes perfect 

This part of the process is trial and error. It comes down to practising until its perfect. Give your chosen recipe a few tries before you introduce it. If your curry spices are different from previous generations, just make sure they taste as good or better, and there is nothing to worry about.

The big event

Pick meaningful moments, include everyone important in the story and make sure that everybody is in good spirits when you decide to formalise a tradition. Let your loved ones know that you intend to make this a regular occurrence and allow the scenario play out. Each time you take part in the tradition, you are adding to its overall value. And remember, even if the food doesn't work out how you had hoped, it enhances the overall bonding experience of your special meal. 

As you fulfil these new food traditions with the hope that they will stick, remember that the tale is just as much about the journey as the destination. And even if something doesn't go to plan – it can become part of your legacy together. Amandla to the tradition of making a plate of leftovers for the needy – so that someone else can get the opportunity to enjoy the delicious family food traditions you have created.