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Folk Arts & Culture

“Since time immemorial, breaking bread together has been a way of building community. Preparing and sharing traditional foods smoothes the entrance of a new member into a group...”—Lynn Case Ekfelt




Lunch (with regionally sourced ingredients) at the Quebeçois Bread Oven. Photo by Todd DeGarmo
[From “Local Sustainability in the Battenkill Valley: Focus of Folklorist Retreat in Washington County,” by Todd DeGarmo, in Voices 38 (1–2), 2012.]

George Sakyiama, Bantoma Market
Genre: Traditional Ghanaian Foods and Cooking
By Ariel Snipe and Khalea Johnson

On Thursday, July 28, 2005, we went to Bantoma Market, an African food store at 180th Street and Grand Concourse. We learned about the importance of having an African grocery store and its cultural connections for African immigrants that come from Ghana and neighboring nations to the Bronx. Mr. George Sakyiama opened the Ghanaian food store in 2004 in order to provide Africans with food from their home. Most of the food is from Ghana, with a few items from England, France, and the Caribbean....

We learned about what certain foods are eaten with. Fufu is eaten with stew or soup the same way Americans often eat potatoes in soups and in stews. Fufu is made of cassava, plaintains, or corn meal. We also learned about how some of the foods are made.

[From “Mind Builders: Training Youth Interns as Beginning Folklorists,” by Deirdre Lynn Hollman, Voices, 32 (1–2), 2007]
...And so begins a report of young folklorist interns in the Mind-Builders’s Internship Report, featured in Voices. Documenting tradition bearers in their Bronx community, they recognized the importance of food, its preparation and enjoyment both, as an important component in cultural identity.

In Voices, we feature a Foodways column regularly. For many years, this column was authored by Lynn Case Ekfelt, author of Good Food Served Right: Traditional Recipes and Food Customs from New York’s North Country. Over the years, she has treated us to stories and recipes from around the state. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Apple Tasting: East DeKalb at the North Country Garden School with 80 different varieties of apples! A recipe for Crow’s Nest, filled with tart apples, is included here.

  • The World’s Greatest Grape Pie recipe with her account of visiting the Grape Festival Weekend in Naples, NY, on the southern tip of Canandaigua Lake.

  • Buffalo’s Other Claim to Fame, the Beef on a Weck, with a recipe included for fresh kummelweck rolls.

  • And then there’s The Only Sandwich with Its Own Festival, the Spiedie, the specialty of Broome County.

  • Treasure from the Sugar Shack lets the secret out that much the Vermont maple syrup available on the internet is shipped over the border in huge tanks from New York State, and provides a sweet history of sugaring in the state.

  • The Cheese Stands Alone describes a Cheesemakers Guild and local cheesemaking, and includes a peanut butter cheese pie recipe for our delight.

  • Michigan: No Longer Just a State traces the Michigan aka Texas Red Hot, to Plattsburgh, NY. She writes that “Michigan makers reply with a sneer and a scornful laugh if you have the temerity to request a recipe,” and kindly provides us one here.

  • Bravo Italiano! asks the question “How many Italian ladies does it take to roll twenty-five hundred meatballs?”, as she reports on the participants at Watertown’s Bravo Italiano Festival. The recipe here is not your mama’s meatball, but Grace Marzano’s Chocolate Meatballs. Cookies!
Lynn, writing about community meals in rural New York, notes that “Since time immemorial, breaking bread together has been a way of building community. Preparing and sharing traditional foods smoothes the entrance of a new member into a group and can cement the bonds between that group’s established members.” Good Food Served Right

Hungarian CuisineEniko Farkas shares her recipe for Hungarian Goulash with our readers, and writes that, “Hungarians very jealously guard their recipes, and if a Hungarian trusts you with her secret recipe, you can trust her with your life. Giving your favorite recipe away is the ultimate bonding experience between women; it makes friends for life.” This recipe comes from her book, Hungarian Cuisine and Personal Memories, available in our online bookstore.


Miriam Wallach using a kugel pan to prepare the seder meal
Miriam Wallach using the kugel pan to prepare the seder meal, April 2005. Photo courtesy of Stephen Wallach.
[From “A Method to Our Madness,” by Miriam L. Wallach, Voices, 31 (3–4), 2005.]

Bea Reynolds
Bea Reynolds won more than forty blue ribbons and was named Grand Champion Cook at the Franklin County Fair before her death in 2002. She was also among the “North Country Legends” honored by TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) for mastering and conserving community traditions. Photo: Martha Cooper.

Bagels are made at Coney Island Bialy and Bagels in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

Traditional ethnic foods made according to traditional methods are a hallmark of life in New York. Here, bagels are made at Coney Island Bialy and Bagels in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Photo: Annie Hauck-Lawson, © Smithsonian Institution
[From “Local Culture in the Global City: The Folklife of New York,” by Nancy Groce, in Voices 30 (1–2), 2004.]


Bagels and Genres,” by Jonathan Sadow, in Voices 37 (1–2), 2011.

Jewish Activities on Christmas,” Mu LI, in Voices 37 (3–4), 2011.

Brewmaster,” Paul Margolis, in Voices 36 (1–2), 2010.

The Bronx Seedless Grape,” Makaké Faber Cullen, in Voices 35(3–4), 2009.

Pierogi- and Babka-Making at St. Mary’s,” by Elizabeth Goldstein and Gail Green, in New York Folklore 4(1–4), 1978.

Rolling Syrian Grape Leaves,” by Mary Jweid and Sharon Bates, in the New York Folklore Newsletter, Winter/Spring 1998.

Kosher Brownies for Passover,” by Marc Tull, in New York Folklore, 4(1–4), 1978.

A Grandmother’s Legacy,” by Virginia M. Scida, in Voices, 32(1–2), 2006.

Pauline Yarema (1921–2005): Gifts of Love,” by Felicia Faye McMahon, in Voices, 34(1–2), 2008.

Free Market Flavor,” by Steve Zeitlin, in Voices, 35(1–2), 2009.

Ritual and Storytelling: A Passover Tale,” by Barbara Myerhoff, in Voices, 34(1–2), 2009.

Growing Community in the Court House Garden,” by Annette Nielsen, in Voices, 38(1–2), 2012.

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