Saturday, January 22, 2011

No cheese or baked goods have ever been baptized into a Mennonite church

Isn’t it amazing how many memories are attached to the foods that we eat or have eaten? I love how a recipe or a photo or a conversation about a certain food brings back fond memories of childhood Christmases at my grandparents. Or memories of family gatherings. Or...

Yesterday local ladies were interviewed on Global News. Mennonite Girls Can cook blogspot has now had 2 million hits and they’ve recently published a cookbook. They are now posting recipes from various cultures but they started out posting traditional Mennonite recipes for posterity. I would venture to guess that part of what has drawn so many people to this blog is the same thing that draws me back again and again: nostalgia and an attempt to keep the memories alive by cooking those things of yesteryear.

For those of you who are thinking, "But I thought that Mennonite was a religion." let me explain the background a little. In one of my first blogs at this site, I wrote about my own cultural background and the importance of the stories of our lives. The memories that these foods evoke are part of my story...and perhaps yours as well. While I have not worshiped in a Mennonite church for many a year, my cultural background remains Mennonite. This differentiation can be confusing for some but suffice it to say that it has become both a religion and a culture. The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada has a rather humorous explanation :
Today…one can go to an area with a Mennonite population and see signs advertising "Mennonite baking," "Mennonite furniture," "Mennonite quilts," and even "Mennonite maple syrup!" To my knowledge, no syrup or baked goods have ever been baptized into a Mennonite church - they have never decided that "this is the church for them." In such cases the word "Mennonite" does not refer to a religious group, but rather to people of a certain ethnic and/or cultural background.

And I would hasten to add, ‘Mennonite Cheese’ to that for those from Mexico since Mennonites there have become quite well known for ‘Queso Menonitas’.

They may not have been baptized into the church but, at the risk of sounding irreverent, many a Mennonite food has been sprinkled, dunked and even immersed...chocolate sprinkles, dunked in coffee, immersed in gravy...and so on...

I have awesome memories of:

Apricot Suppsel: Picking apricots with my dear Leentjemum in her yard at Blumenort.

Cabbage Borscht! Christmas at Grandma and Grandpas as a child.

Bubbat! A great cousin gathering on one of my first visits to Mexico as an Adult.

Knackzoot (Spitz): Ohhhhhh, the memories with that one...that's a blog for the future I think...messy floors come to mind.

And that's just a start.

It's not as much about the food as the memories that they evoke of times with loved ones...and the stories that emerge... Thanks 'Mennonite Girls Can Cook' for this trip down memory lane!


  1. Hi Hellen,
    What a fun post. Oh, I'm ellen b. from the MGCC blog. I'm the one out of the 10 that is not Mennonite. My parents were both born in Russia and my upbringing was in the Russian Baptist and Russian Molokan religions. Like Mennonites though our growing up revolved around food traditions and there was a lot we learned sitting around a food table. We did a lot of eating in the church fellowship hall, too. Have a great day!

  2. ***Gasp*** They let a non-Mennonite join the group?? Must have been the Russian influence in the Menno culture that got you in! :) I had not heard of Molokan religion prior to this but my friend Google just tole me a little. And they are compared to Mennonites at Wikepedia. Hmmmm...

    Nice to have you come to my corner of the blog world. And thanks for your Bread for the Journey this a.m. :)

  3. Being Mennonite is a little like being Jewish - It's not just a religion, it's a way of life. And just as you can be a non-practicing Jew, I guess you can also be a non-practicing Mennonite. Mennonite roots go deep. No matter how far I am from actually being a Mennonite, I cannot resist the urge to play the Mennonite Game (the name game) whenever I meet someone who has a "Mennonite" name.

    I think my favorite Mennonite food is Zwiebach. But peppernuts (can't spell that the way it is supposed to be spelled!) are a close second.

  4. Yea, good comparison...not just a religion, a way of life, so that one can continue the way of life even when no longer in a Mennonite church.

    Haha, you do the Mennonite game? I was actually just wanting to do it with you because I forget how far back it is for you!

    Pfeffernusse?? Haha, I had it right up to the 'n' andthen I had to google.

  5. Hi Hellen, I'm Anneliese of the ten... just thought I'd pop in and, as I scroled down, saw this post! Well done and thank you. Knackzoot... good one.

  6. Hi Anneliese, I've seen your name alot over on Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Thanks for stopping by. I"m glad that you enjoyed it.

    I truly am thinking of doing blog by blog on the memories that various foods evoke. Just haven't decided where to start...go ABC? Or Random? :)