When it rains it pours. First no memes ever, now two in a row. Farmgirl, a down-to-earth blog about life on a farm, has tagged me. The object is favorite foods=memories from childhood.
This is an apropos time as I am with my mother's family in Florida and we have discussed this a lot, how food is memory. In this time of crisis I have found that I put in my mouth what I remember that I like, what works. Rare roast beast sandwiches, onion bagel toasted with cream cheese, Nova and tomato, whipped unsalted butter. And there's another thing-- it's the mysterious food of childhood. The food we're fed before we know where we are geographically, or even before we understand that the food in our mouth depends on the people who put it in there.
I had this experience when I moved to Oakland in 1988. One day I ate these random raviolis from Safeway and my mouth stopped moving suddenly. I called my mother immediately and asked her about them. They were the exact raviolis she fed me in our Berkeley cottage when I was four. But had I never had them again, they may have dropped off my radar.
Childhood Food Memories:
Ice cream cone I will always order: Chocolate mint chip. Although I will say that few companies take the time to pay attention to how this flavour works. Any New Yorker's out there who remember Sedutto's? There's a way that the chocolate has to be in the ice cream. It's important that the two things meld. Strangely enough Baskin Robbins has the right idea---the chips are tiny shavings that melt right away. I could go on for too long about this, so I'll stop here.
Raw Clams. My mother fed me them when I was too young to object. Because I loved and trusted her utterly, and because this was a food she loved and had grown up with and maybe because I loved swimming in the ocean, I loved them too.
Artichokes. They're fun, participatory, silly and the best is really saved for last. With mayonnaise or drawn butter.
Chubs. A small shiny gold skinned fish, head on, open belly side up, smoked white fleshed fish interior. My grandfather Sam fed me this and sometimes I go to Bi Rite, buy two, and eat them alone. It's my quiet time with him, a secret conversation.
Malteds. There was a diner that Nanny (my mother's mother) used to take me to. The joke in my family is that Nanny used to chase me around the green shag carpeted livingroom in Long Island trying to fatten me up with malteds. The good thing is that it's a flavour I still appreciate and have used it a lot in my dessert making.
Candy. I really could have been a research assistant for that book on old school candy. I know the nuances of Sweet Tarts, the trajectory of Bubbleyum, and have the teeth to prove I ate too many green apple Jolly Ranchers. An enterprising young urchin I used to buy 5 & 10c Ice Cubes and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and sell them for 10 & 15c in the treeless PS 168 schoolyard.
tag, you're it next: