Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Culinary Nostalgia

It all started today at work when 2 men both ordered root beer floats. When I passed by their table after they had received their drinks and were well into annihilating the floats, I could see that they both had this look on their face that is similar to a very excited child. It made me smile because all I could think was how these 2 guys had to be feeling huge nostalgia for these classic drinks that one can always relate to being a child. I mean, think about it. Pop and ice cream combined into one glass. Plus you get to eat it with both a spoon and a straw. It's sweet, messy, sticky and delicious - the perfect recipe for any child.

This whole scene made me think of food nostalgia and which foods remind me of certain people in my life and the places these interactions occured.

My mom - Gotta be homemade cookies. My mom is a really good cook but really, when I think back to growing up and my mom, helping her bake cookies was one of my favourite activities. I'd push my chair up against the counter and peer into the magical bowl of blended ingredients (always stealing a bite of raw batter when her back was turned) and wait for my job to be assigned. The best would be dipping sugar cookies into brightly coloured icings and adding sprinkles.

My dad - When I think of my dad I have to think of ice cream. I can't think of anyone who loves ice cream more than my dad. Back when I used to be able to eat ample amounts of ice cream on a daily basis, one summer my dad and I went on a mission to find the best chocolate ice cream in town. We bought so many tubs of ice cream during that time, absolutely determined to find the chocolatiest chocolate ice cream available to the public. Now that I have stupid stomach problems that keep me from indulging in ice cream, my dad will offer me the best bite of his so that I can still have a tiny mouthful of childhood memories.

My Grandma Marbach - This one is too easy. Perogies. Handmade, handcrafted by my grandma who puts so much love into each little dumpling. She would stuff them with simple ingredients like cottage cheese or potato and onion, then boil and fry them in lots of butter. Also, she would serve them with sour cream, onions, bacon and melted butter to pour on top, just in case your arteries weren't aching enough already. It would always be such an event when everyone piled in the car to head to grandma's for one of those family favourite meals. We would all be buzzing with excitement that it was perogy day. The house would be so warm and smell so rich and amazing. Yum.

Grandma Neufeld - It's funny that when I think of this grandma I remember foods that were not homemade but still hold a warm place in my heart. I think back to foods that are incredibly highly processed and they were special because they were something we only got when we went to Grams so they were a treat. Corn dogs and Zoodles tie for my favourite memory of her. Corn dogs were that food we would get when we were at the house and out in the yard playing when hunger struck and food was needed fast! She would tell us to run downstairs and grab some Pogos from the freezer to pop into the microwave. Nothing like microwaved, ketchup drenched hot dogs covered in fried batter on a stick to make a kid happy.

Actually, the more I think about it, I think Zoodles have to be my favourite Grandma Neufeld memory food. Grandma lived about 5 minutes from my elementary school and every so often I would get to run up there on my lunch break to have lunch with her. This was awesome for many reasons. First - I didn't have to make a lunch for myself the day before (yes, I made my own lunches as a kid!) Second - I got to leave the school grounds for an hour while most of the other kids had to stay. Hahaha! Third - I knew my grandma would have something yummy and warm waiting for me on the table when I got to the house. Most of the time, it was Zoodles! Zoodles and Stoned Wheat Crackers with butter! Fourth - I got to see my grandma.

So not only does food nourish the body, but it also nourishes the soul. The faint scent of a certain food can trigger vivid memories or emotions of a time past. This was a fun post to write. It made me think of 4 people whom I love very much and of some foods, a few of which I shall never eat again, that make me happy to associate with these people.

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