Last night Son Number Three had a couple of friends over for dinner, and for dessert I made gingerbread (the cake, not the cookies) with custard sauce. And my son's friend got teary-eyed and told me that her grandmother used to make wonderful gingerbread, but she died two years ago, and she really missed her. I wished my gingerbread could taste exactly like her grandmother's. I wished I could take this girl in my arms and say "Let me feed you."
It's interesting how certain foods ingrain themselves in our memories with specific associations. Christmas means egg nog. Thanksgiving means sweet potatoes with brown sugar. I can't eat sloppy joes without thinking of my grandma, or chocolate-covered orange sticks without thinking of my great-grandmother. Mint and black licorice will always be my grandpa. Lemon Jello salad (fluffy with fruit and whipped cream) and blueberry cheesecake and clam chowder mean Mom to me. With my dad, it's waffles with homemade warm maple syrup. With my neighbor Sister Gill it was roti and golden pancakes the size of the plates. My husband makes wonderful homemade pita and hummus, and I love his strawberry lemonade. And his meatless meatloaf. And his chip buddies. And his lasagna. And...well, that list could go on for a while. Everything he makes is my favourite!
What will my kids associate with me, I wonder? Lavender cookies? Taco won ton? Homemade pizza? No, probably my caramel popcorn. I maintain that if I were hard up for cash, I could stand on a street corner selling bags of caramel popcorn and make a good living for myself. That stuff is treasure.
Food can have all kinds of associations with it for different people, but for me, it brings up cozy thoughts of home, a warm kitchen, and love and laughter. My son has one friend who just doesn't like to eat, has no interest in it, and doesn't like to try new things. I simply can't imagine it!