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Friday, March 5, 2010

Food Memory

Do you have foods that evoke specific memories? I'm eating Cheez-Its right now, and they remind me of my grandmother, my mother's mother. She lived with us one summer, and I would watch TV with her in her bedroom. We had these small rice bowls that we used for ice cream, and I'd fill one with Cheez-Its and watch TV with my grandma. She preferred unsalted peanuts.

She liked to watch old westerns, Wheel of Fortune, even Nickelodeon. She didn't understand a great deal of English, so she liked programs she could understand by the images. Westerns, it's pretty clear what's going on, no dialogue needed. We used to watch a lot of Hey, Dude!, because it was on a ranch and you could figure out what was happening pretty easily.

I remember that my grandma was there, but not particularly warm. I know now that she showed her love with food, that when she was trying to force you to eat a rack of ribs, she was saying "I love you." When she let me watch TV with her in her room, she was trying to be closer to her grandchildren. I didn't know that then, but I know it now.

Another food that takes me back are grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles. Plain wheat bread, plain American Kraft singles, and sweet pickles. My dad would make this for us after church on Sundays. It makes me think of the sweet relief of being home again, after sitting through church, of getting to wear non-formal clothes. It was a meal that prepared you for the chores you'd have to do on Sunday afternoons, dusting and weeding and mulching and washing cars.

We always ate grilled cheeses with sweet pickles. I'm not sure why. I think it's because my dad liked sweet pickles. To this day, the combo makes me think of a respite, a time to breathe a bit in between Sunday duties.

Beef with broccoli. My mom used to make simple Chinese dishes, meat, veg, brown sauce, white rice. I remember watching TV in the other room while my mom hacked a piece of meat into pieces, cooking it in the red electric wok. She'd take a few pieces out and lay them on a cutting board for my brother and I to snack on while we waited for dinner. In the rice bowls, soy sauce and cornstarch would mix to make a flavorful brown sauce. In goes the broccoli, in goes the meat, out comes dinner.

When I was really little, my parents tried to get me to eat broccoli by dunking it in the brown sauce. I would suck the sauce off of the broccoli, and then hand the broccoli back to them. I knew then it was the best part.

What are your food memories?

2 comments:

Living in Denver said...

Thanks Lauren. I am gonna blog on that topic too soon. Your memories are sweet and I am glad that you have reached the age where you see and appreciate the parental love, even when the word was not being said.

Rachel Kellar said...

I would do that with my broccoli too! Or at least double dip the broccoli in the brown sauce, so that you got double the fun!

My favorite food memory reoccurs every time I stop by my parents house. I love that there is ALWAYS something cooking. No matter what time of day. It's either left over breakfast or the beginning of dinner or left over dessert....esp. around the holidays there is always a big pot of something cooking - beef stew, seafood gumbo, noodle soup...mmm!

I also loved that on Sundays after we finished our yardwork my dad would stop by Blimpies and we order 3 footlongs and cut them into 3" pieces so that our family of 5 could enjoy a little piece of everyone's favorite.

p.s. I love you blog - but I really need to remember NOT to read it when I'm hungry :)

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