Awhile back, I mentioned on Facebook that I was getting ready to eat some Neapolitan ice cream. Somebody said, “What adult chooses that flavor of ice cream? Isn’t that a kid flavor?” Factually, there is one single reason why I am particularly fond of Neapolitan ice cream and mint chocolate chip ice cream. They both remind me of my grandma.
When I was little, I would spend a LOT of weekends with my grandma. We were simpatico, my grandma and me. Maybe because we both had the same first name. Unfortunately, my grandma died when I was just 7 years old, so I never really got to know her as I wish I could remember her now. We never had particularly deep conversations of course. What I am left with are memories of foods that we shared together. Ramen (called Oodles of Noodles at the time) is one of my big comfort foods because my grandma used to serve me a heaping bowl of the stuff for lunch. I’d sit on her couch, TV tray over my lap, and I’d slurp that stuff up. I remember this distinctly. We’d drink iced tea together, the special family recipe, while we played board games. My grandma would make sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast and she’d make Texas Sheet Cake for dessert.
I still remember how all of these foods smelled and tasted. When I taste those foods or think about those smells, I am instantly transported back to my very young childhood days.
This is not just the case with my grandma. When I am not feeling well I always remember the poached egg on toast my mom used to make for me (she’d also cut up the toast into remarkably even, perfectly shaped squares that were somehow just the right size for my mouth). When I get home from work after a really long day in the middle of winter, I remember sitting down to my mom’s special chili or my dad’s spaghetti.
All of these foods are reminders of love. People who loved me who are no longer here. People who have loved me who are with me still. When I think of these foods, when I smell them or eat them, I am taken back to all of the special memories that occurred when that particular food was around. Mint chocolate chip ice cream is a trip to the mall with my grandma. Beef barley vegetable soup is a Saturday night when I was a kid, my mom, brother and me huddled in front of Jean-Luc Picard while my dad, the Star Trek outcast, ate elsewhere (but we still told him how delicious his soup was). Creamed Herring is brunch at my dad’s parents’ house on a Sunday morning.
These associations will I think always exist for me. The things you taste and smell seem so real, it seems hard to believe that the people you associate with those sensations won’t just pop through the door. It seems like the realness of the food should be able to eradicate any distance problems we might be experiencing. Just sit down and enjoy this favorite meal with me. Just one more time.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriss/5547011621/ via Creative Commons