There is something about preparing food that unites us. The act of cooking is such an intimate and caring act. I believe love can be tasted in food and so can joy. Food memories run deep. A taste or aroma can spark memories we didn't realize were rooted in us. Food connects us to our ancestors, to moments in time and to places we have travelled. If, for example, the last thing we ate just before we got sick is a cheeseburger with extra cheese and bacon and side a extra-large fries- it might be a while before we choose to consume half a cow AND mix beer and wine...I'm just saying.
Some of the best times of my life and most treasured memories center around food- the making of it as well as the consuming of it. Memories of visiting my grandmother and her having gigantic jars of my favorite Greek cookies, Koulabiethes, JUST for me! She would sit me down, pour me a glass of milk and say "Eat as much as you would Honey. I made these for you." I would happily and greedily oblige. I felt so loved and so special. Gram would force my grandfather to turn off the radio and she would turn off the television and focus solely on me as though everything I had to say was the most important news she was about to hear...
Both sets of my great grandparents were restaurant owners and amazing cooks. Like most amazing cooks, they did not cook with recipes or ever write anything down. Their homes in San Francisco, California were hubs of activity containing many children and neighbors alike and the tastes of those home-cooked delicacies they served are in my mother's tastebuds. She and I bake together to create recipes to save those delicacies for our family. I treasure the times spent with my mother developing Greek food recipes based upon her "taste memories" only. We bake, she tastes, we adjust and so on until we developed and perfected recipes; making lasting taste memories of our own. My grandfather was the oldest of eight and slept head to toe in a bed with two of his brothers. Since my great grandfather died young, Gramps worked many jobs all his life and there was a constant struggle to put food on the table but oh what food! What I wouldn't give to work along side any of my great grandparents as they rolled paper thin homemade phyllo dough or hand-rolled dolmades served with a rich lemon sauce or savored a tomato-based pastisio or baklava as its syrupy goodness dripped down your chin.
Sounds pretty fantastic right? Did I get you craving Greek food yet? Have I made you wish you were Greek? Well, ALL food memories are not precious memories. I can never bring myself to eat carrot soup since I can only think of how disgusting it tastes when coming out the wrong way... One time, many years ago, I accidentally gave my best friend and husband food poisoning. I know what you're thinking, YES, I accidentally gave may husband food poisoning (we were not even married then so I had no reason to poison him!) We are talking more than 20 years ago people and my friend has never and I mean NEVER let me live it down... Our code for the experience is 'Cat Hair and Rice Omelette." All the foods she is allergic to in one go. Eggs, rice and cat. Kind of a three birds with one stone sort of deal. But, we laugh. We laugh EVERY time! Food memories are powerful. Powerful and enduring as caring and love and friendship.
9/7/2016 08:06:20 pm
It's a tough job, but I reluctantly taste all of the experiments! It is a good thing Mary's mom's taste memory is so good, because they all taste great to me! And I don't rmember the food poisoning incident- pushed out of memory by all the deliciuos foods.
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Avid home cook and passionate instructor