Homemade cardamom bread sprinkled with pearl sugar is an annual treat in the DeRosa home in Cranston, Rhode Island. The family’s two young boys, 11 and 14, tell stories about their Granduncle Olof as it bakes: his family farm in New England, his cows, his truck, his big hands, and his recipe for bread, which he learned from his mother, who immigrated from Sweden.
The DeRosa family found that making ancestral recipes like cardamon bread lifted the boys’ spirits when they started growing tired of homeschooling during the pandemic. It kept the boys motivated, says Family Dinner Project director Anne Fishel, who collects and studies stories like these.
"The pandemic is giving parents a chance to share memories [like family recipes] that are really important to them that they want their kids to remember,” says Fishel, who’s also a clinical psychologist and family therapist.