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Childhood Food Memories

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I grew up in a remote mountain town in British Columbia. Food choices were limited unless you fished or hunted or grew it yourself. We had an endless supply of freshly caught rainbow trout which I did not appreciate until as an adult I ate what was available in stores, which wasn't the same fish at all.

Nevertheless, my mother cooked up a storm every day and I had many favourites. She made delicious southern fried chicken and biscuits which were an odd specialty for a woman brought up in New Denmark, New Brunswick. She must have learned how to make it from the southern wife of a grad student at Princeton where my father was studying for his PhD.

I loved her tuna fish casserole, a very fifties dish, which I make myself on the odd occasion when I am homesick for my childhood. She also cooked game very well - wild partridge and venision were my favourites. They were always served with delicious sauces.

But she would "out do herself" at Christmas with her Danish roast goose with apples and prunes and red cabbage. The Christmas dessert was not the usual Danish ris a l'amande but a tart lemon ice cream which she made to please my father. It was refreshing and light after the rich goose and went very well with the many different Christmas cookies she had taught me to make. When meyer lemons are in season, I make the Chez Panisse recipe for lemon ice cream and remember.

I loved the Christmas Eve dinner most of all the meals my mother cooked.

As I said, my father fished as often as he could. Sometimes her fried white fish for breakfast or fish roe. I thought they were delicious and much preferred them to the rainbow trout we had for dinner.

I read a lot and my culinary fantasies were influenced by books like Little House on the Prairie. I wasn't satisfied with canned baked beans and with the help of recipes, I figured out how to make them myself with navy beans, salt pork and molasses. I also learned how to make steamed Boston brown bread to serve with the beans. I loved making them and eating them.

Naturally there were the weekly roasts - beef with Yorkshire pudding, pork with applesauce, lamb with mint sauce and roast chicken.And of course there was wonderful gravy with each roast. I still love gravy an sauces to an obsessive degree but none were as good as my mothers'.

My parents bought their meat and poultry from a farm in the Windermere Valley and the its quality was exceptional. It is only recently with the advent of organic butchers that I have tasted meat that tastes like the meat we ate then. The poultry still can't compete with what we ate then.

There were no fine restaurants in Kimberley nor were there any fast food places. When my father was away, my mother would take my brother and I to a diner uptown, where we had hamburgers, fries and chocolate milkshakes. I loved those hamburgers - they surpassed my father's barbecued burgers and for some reason they surpass anything I have eaten as an adult, even my own. It must have been the grease or the bun. Nor have I tasted a better chocolate milkshake or fries. I imagine that it was the specialness of the occasion that made the food taste so good. W

When we went on holidays we always went to a city (Spokane, Seattle, Calgary, or Vancouver) and stayed in a grand hotel. We always ate in the posh hotel restaurants and I looked forward to the food. Especially in the coastal cities we could indulge in seafood - crab, oysters, shrimp and these were always a treat. To this day, I am a restaurant groupie.

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Codfish cakes, made with salt cod of course. I loved these so much I'd usually be stealing spoonfuls of the uncooked mixture before my mother fried them up.

Swedish pancakes for dinner. Much like big crepes, very eggy. As a kid it was always a treat to have pancakes for dinner. And half the fun was trying to decipher the cryptic handwritten recipe from my grandmother, which somehow never failed to amuse us kids.

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My Aunt Anna's (pronounced Anndanna) pasta fazool, the meatballs with tiny bits of potato from the leftover mashed (lumpy, natch) she used to tenderize them, her working the guitar in her small kitchen (under a very low light, she didn't turn the lights on much) to make pasta for the gravy.

The first time my mom let me make dinner for everyone (I think I was nine): roast chicken with rosemary, baked potato, broccoli with butter. Developing a salsa recipe with my mom (I think I was 12) that I thought was completely unique-us talking about how much money we could make selling it.

Going to the neighborhood brick oven pizza place in northeast philly before it got big. There were animals walking around everywhere and we always got to go in the back where the oven was (the pizza men used really long poles for the pizza). I would get a lollipop every time (I remember one that was so big I could hardly fit the whole thing in my mouth, it was pink).

Being sent to pick eggs from my great grandmother's chicken coop. Broken clam shells everywhere on the ground, a very distinctive but not offensive smell that had a fertile ripeness to it mixed with the fragrance of damp hay (the scent was rich). The eggs were still warm from their pointless incubation.

Playing with crabs from the bushel with my cousins before they were boiled (my cousin got pinched real bad once), then eating crabs out on the deck out back all day long.

nunc est bibendum...

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A Grapette soda with a bag of Tom's salted peanuts poured into it. On the front porch of a country store, bare feet coated with dust, watching the cars go by.

Don't ask. Eat it.


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A Grapette soda with a bag of Tom's salted peanuts poured into it. On the front porch of a country store, bare feet coated with dust, watching the cars go by.

Oh yeah! Nehi grape soda or RC cola in my area. One of my great uncles had a little store in a village of 96 residents. Not a lot of cars went by but there were plenty of mule-drawn wagons. It was right next to a bridge over a creek popular for fishing, so he supplied bait and more than a few people exchanged freshly caught fish for stuff from the store.

He taught us kids how to bake fish sealed in soft clay from the creek bank, cook it in a fire and when it was cracked open the skin stuck to the clay so the nicely cooked flesh was exposed and on its own "plate." I think that tasted better than any fish I have ever eaten.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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going to Getty's store after helping my grandfather, pop, mow the cemetery and having a root beer float. there was nothing better.

as a youngun' around 1960, taking a "try to calm the kids down enough to go to sleep" drive and ending up with a Skybar. each person got their own little pillow of taste. i loved the marshmallow.

church potluck dinners. my pop's smooch - elbow macaroni, tomatoes, ground beef, onion, peppers and some ketchup.

fish salad - whatever fish was leftover was mashed up to make fish salad with miracle whip, minced onion, celery salt and then put on white bread or turned into some cooked elbow macaroni. never knew about tuna salad until i was an adult

when first nan and then pop died the funeral salad - jello, cottage cheese, pineapple, sour cream, mini marshmallows - hey, i grew up on the east end of long island not the south?!

steamed pudding with hard sauce. we would spend july and august going around harvesting the different berries then come home, make up a not sweet batter then fold in the berries. the batter would go into coffee cups that had been greased - with criso - and put into a pot with boiling water for about an hour. the hard sauce was nothing more than softened margarine, a box of confectioners sugar and some vanilla extract that is mixed together. traditionally it would include rum but we didn't. uncup the pudding, cut in half and then add the hard sauce for dessert.

pop would try to convince us that liver was good. didn't work though our new england boiled dinner was more likely tounge than corned beef.

finally i used to just make it for him if he didn't ask me to eat it.

every thanksgiving until he died - my uncle can's coffee gelatin for thanksgiving dinner dessert. strong coffee, some sugar and knox gelatin.

waffles with bacon and sausage after church on sundays. cinnamon toast( i hadn't met johnnybird or his famous outrageous toast dope yet) with tea for dinner - or white rise with butter and sugar.

the guy who would come each october with his fresh macintosh apples we would buy and wrap to keep over winter so we could have pies and applesauce.

my mom's incredible doughnuts, lemon meringue pie, apple pies and the green creme de minthe in case you had a bad stomach.

standing on a chair to make my grandfather's breakfast - sunnyside eggs, bacon, toast and coffee that you can stand a spoon up in.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.


Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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There were no fine restaurants in Kimberley nor were there any fast food places.

I'm sure I remember going to a Dixie Lee Fried Chicken place near the Overwaitea in the 80s, although it probably doesn't really qualify as fast fast food... And there was always the marvelous selection in Cranbrook :raz: !!

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My Aunt Anna's (pronounced Anndanna)

. . .

Mine is Anana. :smile:

Another memory is of my dad's garlic pepper spareribs and pork corn balls. I used to scrape the fond out of the pans used to cook them and slop it on my rice with a little bit of the oil. Very tasty! And I remember the first time my mother caught me doing it, instead of scolding me, she said, "Boy! You really know how to eat!"

With that kind of encouragement, it's no wonder I'm chubby now! :laugh:

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The first time Daddy brought home a sack of oysters and the four of us kids sat around him as he shucked them and doled them out. I needed a saltine and some Tabasco in order to take the first plunge, but after that, it was all good. Actually,anything Daddy brought home was usually a treat. Hot & spicy boudin & cracklins, tamales from the local street cart, watermelon to split open and share.

Mama's seafood gumbo, fried chicken, & her Sunday pot roasts. Daddy's fried fish (fresh caught), boiled crawfish & crabs. He was heavy handed with the pepper and that's the way we all liked it. Tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden, and one year, an overflow of cantaloupe.

Root beer floats, my first fried shrimp po-boy, oh man, heaven on French bread.

Our Louisiana grandmother would put a little bit of coffee in our morning cereal when we visited. With the sugar and the milk, it was cafe au lait rice krispies. So good! My grandmother's corn macque choux, so delicious, a little sweet and a little heat. I wish I could have it again. Her fig preserves, gooey, sticky, just sweet enough. Great on toast, fabulous on ice cream. Oh, and the hand-cranked ice cream. The grandkids took turns sitting on the lid for the final turns as the cranking got more difficult.

Our Texas grandmother always had hot homemade biscuits and sausage for breakfast. Sweet tea by the pitcherful. Pinto beans and hot buttered cornbread. Simple, but perfect.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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My dad used to occasionally bring home pastrami and fabulously fresh rye bread from the deli that was in the train station just a few steps from his office - we'd make the most fabulous sandwiches with just a slathering of mustard.

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Here's a strange one.

When my brother and I were young, our mother used to make us lamb's brain and walnut sandwiches for lunch.

I suspect she had some strange natural medicine basis for giving us both brains and something that looks like brains in a school lunch. Needless to say it was here that I first learnt the fine art of psychological distraction (in response to the question "what have you got for lunch?").

The combination of the creamy brain texture and the crunchy walnut is actually quite delicious so it qualifies as a favourite childhood food memory.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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