Vicky Cassidy’s food language

Cassidy shares food values with son
Vicky Cassidy’s food language
Photo by Vicky Cassidy

If food is a family’s common language, it speaks Russian in Vicky Cassidy’s Madison household. It can be heard in the old tongue, through her great-grandmother’s sweet and creamy puff-pastry cake they’d enjoy together in Russia when she was a little girl. It’s spoken in the Americanized tongue of her immigrant family, when she video-calls her sister and mother in Chicago to plan the annual Thanksgiving meal.

You can hear it in the healthy debate over whether to serve the crowd-favorite garlic mascarpone potatoes again this year (no repeat dishes are allowed, as a general rule); in the laughter as they finally feast over the kale and pumpkin seed stuffing, or the brown buttered squash with prosciutto and goat cheese.

Now she speaks it to her 2 1/2-year-old son, who started using words including whisk, chop and stir at an earlier age than most. He’s a toddler who bellies up to the kitchen counter each morning and asks for fig jam or smoked salmon.

“While we cook every day, holidays are special. There’s more conversation, more reflection, time with our extended family. And also there’s a lot more dessert,” she laughs. “That’s usually a good way to get him to realize that this is a special occasion.”Vicky Cassidy’s food language

Cassidy hopes to use food to translate her family’s values to her son, and special occasions like Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve mark the perfect opportunity to include children in the festivities. She starts by choosing a signature dish or drink, one that signifies the mood and message she’s hoping to create, and builds around it.

Cassidy documents her foodie adventures on her award-winning blog, Things I Made Today, and she often finds inspiration through Whisk, a collective of Wisconsin-based food bloggers she co-created in 2015.

“Food is such a great way to get people talking and building shared experiences,” she says. “That is something I would love to pass on.”

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