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Cooking Up Connections

Honoring our Heritage: Part Two in a series of articles featuring GM Financial team members and how they honor their cultures and heritage.

My husband and I come from similar backgrounds. We grew up in households that embraced diversity. We celebrated the same holidays. We even grew up attending the same church denomination.

But there are some stark differences between us.

My husband is a towering 6 feet, 9 inches compared to the 5 feet, 9 inches listed on my driver’s license. He’s naturally gregarious and friendly so he often wins people over quickly, while I like to have time to acclimate to new environments. He also happens to be a Black man, which means he’s dealt with a lot of situations that I will never experience as a white woman. My team member Marcy Ryan-Hooker does an exceptional job of highlighting some of those shared concerns in the previous Honoring our Heritage post.

In the early days of our relationship, my husband, Dimitri, and I would divide our time between households on holidays, but we realized we spent most of our time on the road. After we married,­­ we cherry-picked our favorite aspects from each side of the family and started our own traditions.

The traditions that ended up having the most staying power centered around food. We honor our heritage and each side of our family through the recipes we make. My husband knows that every cookout includes German potato salad, but who doesn’t like warm potatoes and bacon? He accepts that I will be making corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

Anyone who’s attended a GM Financial Marketing team potluck in previous years has had my mother-in-law’s banana pudding, and it’s always met with rave reviews. We also fight off the cold weather with her chicken and dumplings.

Surprisingly, some of our favorite meals come from our extended families. We love to make Aunt Sam and Tío Vinny’s tacos and crab taquitos with fresh pico de gallo. We are passionate about dolmas, specifically Armenian dolmas, which include meat and tomato paste. I would argue they’re the perfect portable snack. Each of these dishes are tied to those who first shared them with us.

When I miss Aunt Sam, who passed away unexpectedly two years ago, I make tacos and send a picture in a group text to my mom and sisters. Before you know it, we’re all sharing memories, and someone is checking in on Tío Vinny. It’s a simple way to honor someone who made a significant impact on your life, and it makes you feel close to them once again (especially at a time when travel isn’t always possible).

Although this study by JNeurosci is several years old, it illustrates the direct connection between the part of the brain responsible for taste and smell and the part of the brain responsible for tying memories to a time and place. Turns out that family recipes aren’t just what your family likes; sometimes they’re dishes that have the ability to transport you to that crowded kitchen 20 years in the past.

Kelly Schaefer Hill
By Kelly Schaefer Hill, GM Financial

Soccer mom, corgi enthusiast, virtual learning teacher’s assistant, Kelly Schaefer Hill wears a lot of hats, but one thing she can’t stay away from is data and fun facts. When she’s not writing a post to answer your questions, she’s hanging with her family.

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