Your Fondest Food Memories

by Cate on May 21, 2007

Reading this post from Sam today reminded me of one of my fonder food memories. While growing up, because of my Dad’s job, we lived all over, and though a lot of my memories are quite hazy, I do remember bits and pieces. We lived in Woking for about two years (about 45 minutes outside of London), and I remember the fish and chips served on newspapers with a splash of malt vinegar. Really good stuff. And Nutella. It was during our time in England that I first discovered, and fell in love with, Nutella.When I was 7, we lived in Italy, and I remember the huge chocolate Easter eggs that we’d get for the holiday. Hollow inside, and filled with all sorts of treats, they were wrapped in giant pieces of bright pink and purple shiny paper. I’ve since discovered a local Italian gourmet shop that sells them, and we’ve been able to relive that tradition with Nicholas. Some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had.

Fruit Pizza (similar to this one). My grandmother had a long list of things that she was allergic to (or thought she was). The list of what she could eat was way shorter. Every time we’d visit her, we’d have plain chicken breasts for dinner with steamed vegetables, toast and rice cakes for breakfast and a few other similarly unflavored “treasures.” It made for a wonderful diet, and much happiness was had when a McDonalds opened up across the street from her house years later. We’d make quick sprints across the street under the guise of nightfall to get some food … any food … into our bodies. But, one of my more fonder memories of my grandmother was her Fruit Pizza. Allergies be damned, every time we arrived in the blistering heat of Texas, we could count on another thing besides the ultra-bland food … Fruit Pizza. She always had one waiting for us, and every time I make one, I think of her.

Cheese Delights and Spinach Cheese Squares. Growing up, my parents had frequent dinner parties. My sister and I would dutifully stay upstairs, quiet and out of the way. As soon as the guests moved from the living room to the dining room for dinner, my mom would whisper up the stairs, beckoning us down. She’d have all the leftover appetizers in the kitchen for us, and we’d feast to our heart’s content. I don’t know about my sister (maybe she’ll pipe in), but my favorites were the Cheese Delights and Spinach Cheese Squares, which I now make on my own and share at my own dinner parties. And to this day, the Spinach Cheese Squares are one of the few ways I can get Nicholas to eat spinach.

Melrose Parties. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own, and had my first apartment that I really started getting interested in cooking. I was very definitely the only 20-year-old I knew getting a subscription to Woman’s Day and Family Circle magazines for the recipes. We’d have Melrose Place parties every week and have a full-on potluck buffet, with me turning out a multitude of dishes from my tiny 5×5 galley style kitchen. We’d crowd around the tv together on the floor, vying for a little two foot space of real estate on the carpet, indulging in guilt-ridden food and even guiltier tv.

Tuna Fish. Completely silly, I know, but still a fond food memory. When The Husband and I first started dating, he came by my apartment for lunch one day. I had planned out the ridiculously casual offerings the night before, figuring I’d keep it simple with tuna fish sandwiches (luckily despite the lack of haute cuisine, he stuck with me all these years later!). I was determined to impress him, even with something like tuna fish. The night before our lunch date, I made the tuna fish salad, carefully mixing it and mixing it and mixing it again, taking every assurance that it would be lump free and have the completely perfect ratio of mayo to tuna. What was I thinking? Honestly. He wouldn’t like me if there was a lump or two in the tuna fish? Crazy, I know, but hey, love will do that to you.

So there are a few of mine … I’d love to hear some of your favorite food memories. Have at it.

P.S. And dinner tonight? The Husband took care of it, whipping up a plate of pasta with meat sauce. I’m a lucky girl.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

MidwestMaven May 22, 2007 at 2:07 am

There is nothing that conjures up happy memories of my childhood faster than Smoky Links from Ekrich! The power of scent is amazing like that.
By the way, Sweetnicks, I love your blog! I’m new to blogging (this is my first comment), and I have a question I was hoping you might address if you ever have time or space! I have yet to figure out a good system to manage all of my recipes, especially the magazine and newspaper clippings of recipes I’d like to try. Do you have a system that works? Thanks!

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Sam May 22, 2007 at 2:14 am

I love food memory posts. I am more than honoured to have inspired one of yours!

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Cate May 22, 2007 at 2:22 am

Midwestmaven – thanks for dropping by. Filing recipes, a challenge for sure. I have all my tried-and-trues in one file, that one of these days I will eventually get time to organize. For recipes that I want to try, I have them organized in folders sorted by very specific categories; that way, if I’m looking for a fish dish to try, for example, I have one folder to look in. You might want to check out this post.

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Cate May 22, 2007 at 2:24 am

Sam – I hadn’t thought of fish-and-chips in ages, and you certainly can’t get authentic stuff like that here. Good fish-and-chips, yes, but just not quite the same. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :)

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Claire May 22, 2007 at 2:54 am

I love this post! I’ve talked about my memories of fruit loops at Granny’s, inside picnics with Mama…at MaG and Papa’s we had peanut butter crackers (on saltines!) and a “glass” (4-6 oz) of coke while we watched The Price is Right. Sunday Daddy would grill honey buns. I could come up with SO many. Food memories are fun! And the fruit pizza…I’ve been wanting one of those for SOOOOOO long! Sometime soon! Hmmmm…would something with tuna in it work for ARF tomorrow? I may have a food memory coming!

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Sarah Caron May 22, 2007 at 1:27 pm

I’ve been mentally strolling down my own food memory lane since this past weekend. On Saturday, Will and I bought some cherries (which I almost never buy because I just don’t like the ones you get in the supermarkets here — too tart). When we got home I washed them up and tried one (sharing with Will of course). And for once, it was everything I yearned for in a cherry – sweet and smooth with a touch of tartness. And it brought back a memory from my childhood of when we were living in France for a few months and my grandmother and I would buy bags of cherries and eat them while we walked.

Mmm. I love hearing about food memories.

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Patricia Scarpin May 22, 2007 at 3:39 pm

I love this post, Cate!

The chocolate Easter eggs are huge here in Brazil too.

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Kimberly Bluestocking: May 22, 2007 at 8:40 pm

I enjoy your blog so much; thanks for sharing.

My fond food memory is of Dad firing up the grill each weekend to make burgers when I was little. Alas, my mother always made potato salad to go with it, which I never cared for (sorry, Mom).

Fortunately, Mom’s ice cream-making abilities more than make up for all that mayonnaise and paprika.

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Hubers May 23, 2007 at 12:23 am

Great question Cate! And fun remembrances to read.

One of my all-time-favorite food moments was in Greece, when I was living with a family on Corfu. Mama fried an egg in olive oil and I went gaga — I was sure that she had “done” something to make it taste so good. The whole family looked at me funny while I swooned and then said it was just an egg fried in olive oil. What they took for granted, and what I’ve never forgotten, is that the egg was from the neighbor’s chicken and was just laid that morning, and the olive oil was pressed a few months earlier from their own groves. It was my first lesson in how AMAZING the simplest, freshest food can be.

Great blog Cate!

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Snarkmeister May 23, 2007 at 1:18 am

Hmmm…Grammy’s scalloped cabbage and her cucumber-sour cream salad always bring back fond memories. My mother’s side of the family, unfortunately, is kind of culinary-challenged. Growing up, I remember endless nights of spaghetti (mom’s favorite). To this day, I still dislike marinara. I mean, we had it All. The. Time.

One vivid memory I have involving food was the night my sister and I got goofy while doing the dishes. She spit some mac ‘n’ cheese at me, and I sprayed her with the pull-out faucet thingy. It ended up in a total free-for-all, resulting in my mother laughing hysterically and my dad getting REALLY pissed off at all the water and pasta all over the kitchen. Heh. He was always kind of a control freak. ;-)

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Charise May 23, 2007 at 12:23 pm

My mom’s tuna noodle casserole, for sure … it was always her go-to meal. It’s what I still make when I’m feeling really down and need comfort food. Even though I don’t really even like it anymore.
Also, when we would go stay with my grandparents for a week every summer, we’d have vanilla frozen yogurt and mix in Grape Nuts and top it with raspberries (random, I know, but I loved it, and it’s so unique it always makes me think of Grandma).

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