Like clockwork, every January growing up my family gathered at my grandparents’ house for what I now recognize was a food tradition that started long before I was born––going back at least as far as when my mom was a child.
There were no birthdays to celebrate in January (or February for that matter), and no one remembers the dinner’s origins, but without fail, on what always seemed to be the coldest Sunday—the one that frosted over your eyelashes—we bundled up and made the trek to what was then the west side of Omaha and now isn’t even the midpoint.
The menu never differed and only one thing was ever served: piping hot chop suey served over white rice. I clearly recall a large roaster filled to the brim with lean pork and a mix of Chinese vegetables—bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts—all swimming in a savory brown gravy whose consistency my great-grandma Mary Barney would agonize about getting just right.
Today, I am curious about how a Chinese dish made its way to middle America and into the hands of a South Omaha–raised daughter of a German immigrant to become our family’s tradition. I only wish I had asked Great-Grandma before she passed away when I was in college.
In the face of human differences and divisions, I am comforted to recognize the vital role of food and food traditions in all cultures across the globe to bring people together. Sharing a meal can be the catalyst to make new connections and deepen already existing ones. In this new year, whom might you invite to share a meal? In these pages I invite you to Edible’s table and hope you enjoy the feast.
Amy S. Brown
P.S. As part of the Edible Omaha family, you know Lucy and I are searching for new publishers with the skills and time to grow the magazine. If you or someone you know is interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.