by Rebecca Snetselaar, Folklife Specialist, Nevada Arts Council, 2019
Foodways are one of the easiest kinds of folklife to find. Recipes that families brought with them when they came to the United States are treasured and passed down through generations. They may have secret ingredients (not to be shared outside the family). Some evolve over time, adapted to changing tastes, the availability of ingredients, and the creative impulses of a new generation of cooks.
The Eldorado’s annual Great Italian Festival in Reno includes a friendly competition that invites families in Nevada and neighboring California to share a family recipe for Italian sauce. This year (the 38th annual) there were about two dozen families, each manning a booth emblazoned with the family name and the region of Italy they were representing. Some families have been participating for decades.
Contestants provide their shopping lists in advance, and the Eldorado delivers the requested ingredients to the family booths on Fourth Street. Then the cooking begins: chopping, sautéing, stirring, seasoning, tasting. It’s a family affair, with all ages taking hand in the work. Family and friends […]