On this day dedicated to remembering, I’m spending the day thinking about the brave souls who have fought and fallen for our country, and who have made possible the pleasures and the privileges we all enjoy every day. From our staff at Local Food Hub to all the families out there, thank you from the bottom of our local-lovin’ hearts.
I’m also just thinking about memories in general. How they shape our lives, our futures and our pasts; how they make up and influence who we are, how we act, and what we say and do. I’m thinking about how fleeting they can be — wispy and flighty and momentary — but also how solid, permanent, and forever.
Some of my most vivid memories — and I’m sure many of yours, too — center around food. Not necessarily specific dishes or meals (though sometimes), but smells, sounds and tastes. These snippets are like snapshots of the past, and often just the slightest taste or smell today can instantly catapult me back to that place.
Many of my favorite food memories center around my grandmother. Her love for cooking and food, and her creativity and willingness to experiment in the kitchen (with her grandchildren no less), well…I see it in myself every day, and I am endlessly grateful for it.
Some of my favorite memories I am thinking about today:
- The smell of garlic in a hot pan: Every Sunday dinner at my grandma’s house started with garlic. You could smell it, fragrant and sharp, before you even walked in the door. It meant grandma in the kitchen at the stove, rolls or garlic bread in the oven, the table set for 6, 7, 8 people, and a delicious dinner about to be served. Even today, garlic crisping in a pan, just on the veeeery edge of being brown, makes me hungry.
- Coca-cola and microwave popcorn: Not the healthiest treat, by any standards, but still a powerful reminder of my grandmother. It was the nighttime snack we enjoyed every time we spent the night at her house as young kids. My sister and I would tear upstairs in our nightgowns, pile into grandma’s bed, and turn on the cable TV. (Cable! It was a novelty back then.) My grandma would be up next, with a big bowl of microwave popcorn, and three plastic cups full of ice-cold Coca-Cola. We’d spend hours munching on popcorn and channel surfing. I always found kernels in the sheets when I woke up the next morning.
- Broccoli from the garden: While my love of food is forever linked to my grandmother, my interest in growing food comes straight from my mother. Picture after picture of my mom when I was first born also show a big vegetable garden in the yard, rows of fertile red soil and lush green plants, and everywhere we’ve lived since then, my mom has eked out a garden somewhere. One of my favorite photographs of myself when I was a toddler involves me, a HUGE head of broccoli my mom was very proud of, and a giant temper tantrum. Of course when I eat broccoli today, I can’t help but remember all of those things.
There are more, of course, but now it’s your turn.
Do you have food memories? Are there meals, smells, ingredients that transport you back in time? I hope you will share them with us.
Pictured above: my lovely grandma. Pictured below: yes, a baby photo, but more importantly, a big ol’ vegetable garden.