36 years ago, a local paper ran a seasonal puff piece about the holiday traditions in my maternal grandmother's home. In addition to discussing the German and Dutch traditions handed down from my great-grandparents, it offered an array of German recipes, a purloined "secret" cheesecake recipe the publication of which remains a scandal nearly four decades later, and an array of recipes that illustrate just how much our palates have changed in that time. One of my favorite signs of change:
MEXICAN HORS D'OEUVRES
Butter a flour tortilla and place in hot frying pan, buttered side down. Cover with grated Tillamook cheese, chopped Bermuda onion and a chopped pimento. Butter a second tortilla and lay on top of the other, butter side up. When brown, flip over and brown other side. Remove to a warm plate and cut in wedges with a pizza cutter.
I'm pretty sure somebody associated with this whole affair knew that was called a quesadilla, but deemed that term inappropriate for a family newspaper in Orange County, California in 1974. Also, I had not previously appreciated the role of the pimento in easing culture shock.
My youngest aunt — still in the home at the time — reports that guests in 1974 found the "Mexican Hors D'oeuvre" remarkably novel and exotic. Now, of course, my kids have been eating quesadillas their whole life — along with sushi, tikka masala, pad thai, and sole in black bean sauce. What will they be trying to get me to eat 36 years from now, and feeding their own kids?
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