Food is love.
In the last couple of months a few blogs that I occasionally read have featured posts on the authors' favorite childhood food memories. Reading their memories started me thinking about mine. Neither of my parents is much of a cook, which may be why I learned to cook myself before finishing high school. Not that my early experiments went without incident. I can remember one particular ill-conceived vegetable casserole where as a last-minute flourish I cracked an egg over the entire thing and then stuck it into a 250 degree oven.
My sister doesn't cook much at all now, but she too had her early culinary adventures. Most people who know me know the story of her famous carrot-raisin salad. A dish of raisins and grated carrots -- not too shabby for a three-year-old. Until she told us years later how she managed to grate the carrots: without knife or grater, she made the most of the resources at her disposal, grinding up the carrots in her mouth and spitting them back up in appropriate quantity on each individual salad plate.
I have a few particularly horrendous childhood memories. Given how I have grown to love all things egg as an adult, you'd never guess that I spent many childhood breakfasts locked in stalemate with my parents over the soft-boiled eggs they used to make me eat. But all in all, I had a childhood dominated by good memories of mediocre food.
Bisquik pancakes. No Vermont maple syrup for me, either. Give me the cheap supermarket varieties, thank you very much. From these breakfasts were born my lifelong addictions to carbohydrates and unmitigated sugar. My mom used to make one big pancake rather than several little ones, and to this day it confuses the hell out of me when I get silver dollar pancakes at diners.
Cheese and butter sandwiches. Yep, eating Saturday lunch with my dad was cholesterol central. If it wasn't cheap Mexican fast food on Route 17 on the way home from Saturday school in Ridgewood, it was deli cheese and butter sandwiches at the place in Butler near his office. Rye bread, deli American cheese, slathered with butter -- it was like grilled cheese without the grilled part. And in retrospect it's not clear why he ordered me these, since he himself had Italian sandwiches or pastrami. And yet I ate them, week after week.
Double Stuf Oreos. This is pretty much the grossest thing ever. I can remember coming home from school and grabbing a handful of Double Stuf Oreos and plopping down on my beanbag chair in front of the TV before doing my homework, prying apart the cookie shell from the sugary shortening filling, eating all the cookie shells and then smushing the filling from three or four cookies together into one big ball of crap, rolling it between my hands like Play-Doh and leaving a thin film of grease all over my hands. I saved the best for last, eating the whole fatty, sugary mass in two bites.
It amazes me when I look at Noelle, growing up trying and liking all manner of vegetables, learning to cook herself. The girl likes shellfish, sushi, Thai curries, samosas, cavatelli with broccoli, Italian sausage, shrimp fried rice. When I was eight I was all cheese and butter and Oreos. The food experience she's getting is so much more textured than mine was; she'll try anything once, and she'll articulate just what it is she likes about a flavor or how it could be improved. Fast forward twenty years and think about what her childhood food memories are going to look like. Though maybe in twenty years she'll use Bisquik.
Any good childhood food memories for you?