If I asked you to describe your most memorable meals, what would list? Now, memorable can mean a wide range of experiences- not always for the better. With the “eating season” upon us I got thinking about some of the foods I’ve had that I’ll never forget. They range from the totally mundane to the slightly unusual. As you are reading this, start making your own list so we can share.
Do you remember the era of Good Housekeeping magazine setting the high standard of home cooking? I’m dating myself here. My poor mother will never live down the tuna noodle casserole made with peas and potato chips on top. It certainly wasn’t her lack of culinary interest; it was the time. She was, and definitely still is, extremely conscience of high quality preferably organic food. When my friends were eating Welch’s grape jelly and Skippy peanut butter with Campbell’s soup, we had organic peanut butter on rock hard bread so thick we literally had to take our fingers and peel the mush off the top of our mouths. I loved it when I stayed for lunch at a neighbor’s house for I could sinfully eat over-processed foods. Yet, with all of our teasing my wonderful mom, she created a foundation that can’t be erased.
During our lovely Thanksgiving holiday with my parents, we spent some time talking about the foods we associated while growing up. There couldn’t be a more striking difference from my maternal grandmother’s Bostonian fare (think boiled and bland) and the other side of my family.
My paternal grandmother visited when I was in high school. I didn’t know her before that, except for stories. I watched as she made what seemed to be exotic dishes from a Romanian Jewish heritage. There are flavors and techniques of preparation that hopefully won’t somehow disappear, but might except in some of the extremely traditional sectors of our society. My children, sadly, will probably never repeat many of the dishes I wrote down in my sloppy adolescent script with instructions such as, “cook until done.”
We leave for Bucharest this afternoon. On our last trip there I begged our friends to feed us true Romanian food, not the meals expected for Americans. They wonderfully took on the challenge. Many of the flavors were very reminiscent of those my grandmother made during her visit and ones my father tried to replicate. But, I also learned about a culture that wastes nothing. Nothing.
I ate more body parts that had never before made it to my plate. I confess I had to draw the line with the bull’s testicles. Of course, my wonderful husband asked for a second helping.