My sister made these kitchen towels recently and gave them to me as an early birthday gift. Now every time I open the towel drawer I will be reminded of my sweet sister and her thoughtful gift. Along side them will be the towels Mead bought in Hawaii, the well worn Halloween towels from Bristol Farms, and the old towels that I embroidered and gave to my mom when I was in the sixth grade. Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, an authority on the sociology of food and culture said, “Food is memory.” Part of what makes the July 4th hamburgers, and the Thanksgiving turkey, taste so good is our remembering the meals of the past and the people there. A towel, a stained recipe card, an old utensil, whatever it may be, can trigger vivid memories in the kitchen and inspire us to make Grandma’s spaghetti and hamburger one more time (buttered white bread, and peanut butter on the side, of course.)
My mother was every bit the modern 50’s housewife. If it was on TV we had to try it, but even though we clamored for Tater Tots and fish sticks, Mom seemed to instinctively know that we were better off with baked fish, Swiss steak, vegetables, and whole wheat bread. Even those humble dishes bring back fond memories – I have tried to recreate Mom’s yummy Swiss steak, mostly unsuccessfully. She used to make a custard pie with poppy seeds that I loved but where oh where is that recipe?
I have my own memories too, many of which I have written about in this website. The Ritz-Carlton Creamed Corn recipe given to me by my friend Pat is now a mainstay at Thanksgiving. So is my friend Glenn Kellogg’s Cranberry Chutney. I’ve devised my own stuffing recipe and even though I sometimes try different ones I always return to my favorite apple and sausage Turkey stuffing. My friend Gary taught me how to bake bread and I count his challah as part of my repertoire, along with schnecken, bagels, and batter dinner rolls, but my most popular bread is Dill Casserole Bread made in a round casserole. And a recipe from the Los Angeles Times, Chicken Pot Pie, is one we never tire of.
What are your food memories? We all have them.