Does your food take you places?
I’ve been to some beautiful places in my life, from the snow-capped mountains, and rocky shores of Maine, to the rolling, peaceful hills of rural Tennessee. Most memorable are the back yards and surrounding woods of my grandparents’ homes and the home in which I grew up.
Not long ago I was at a reception for the wife of our church’s new preacher. Someone brought a bowl of the biggest, reddest raspberries I’ve seen in quite some time. The very second I put one of those berries in my mouth I was suddenly standing in front of a huge raspberry patch, just down the road from my Grandmother’s house in very rural Lambert Lake, ME. I spent many summer days there, just roaming around and enjoying so much of God’s beautiful creation. I didn’t know then what a blessing I had experienced growing up. But God is showing me now, in the memories that I have from those days.
Of course I was only at that raspberry bush for a second, I had to get back to the reception before the people around me noticed that I had been gone. But I thought about those berries and the memories they stirred for the rest of the day. Isn’t it amazing what one taste of a simple food can do?
There were more foods at my Gram’s house. In the summer there were beautiful Maine blueberries. If you’ve never tasted a Maine blueberry, just let me tell you, they are like no other blueberry! And of course there were the strawberries that would grow along the railroad tracks. My siblings and cousins and I would go picking and come home with enough for pies that night. Nothing can beat those pies! In the winter it just wasn’t saturday if we weren’t having Gram’s homemade baked beans and dinner rolls. To this day whenever I take even one bite of either one I am instantly transported to her kitchen. I can hear the snowmobiles coming in off the lake as the crew was coming in from a long, cold ride,ready for a delicious meal.
A little farther south, in the steep hills of Barre, VT, was my other Gram’s house.(yep, we called them both Gram, and sometimes Grammy). My sisters and I usually spent a week or two of summer vacation visiting her. The highlight of my day was when the ice cream truck came. Every day I got the same treat; a Raspberry Circus Surprise. Oh, this was a treat indeed. It was basically a popsicle made of raspberry sherbet. The stick was made of plastic, and when you were done with the sherbet, and only the stick was left, you now had a toy, because the stick was in the shape of a circus animal. Times were simple and I was easily amused.Those days are only somewhat gone, because they come back to me every time I have a taste of raspberry sherbet.
When my mom picked us up at the end of our stay, there was one thing we simply had to do. Just down the street was a little corner store which happened to carry hand made ravioli, made by a woman who lived right there in town. This has to be the most delicious food ever put together by a human being. It was not like any ravioli I have ever had elsewhere. My whole family loved it and considered it a special treat. We always went and bought enough to have a big feast at Gram’s house before we left, and enough to bring home to have once or twice throughout the year. There always seemed to be one serving leftover, which my sisters and I fought over. Fortunately, my brothers didn’t love it enough to get in on the fight or they would have won.
I can’t get my hands on that ravioli any more. I would pay $100.00 for just one serving. I have a recipe that was given to me by my aunt, who said it would be similar. Admittedly, I haven’t perfected my hand-made ravioli making skills. But what I sometimes do is make the sauce from that recipe to put on my spaghetti. Just the sauce is enough to put me in mind of some of the most precious memories of my childhood.
Many of the meals I now make remind me of sitting at my own parents’ table, with my four siblings and a dog. It was usually loud, and someone was usually complaining about the veggies,but it was a good time. I wonder what meals my children will make when they want to remember my dinner table. Will it be the nachos we make on movie night? Or maybe the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies we keep in the freezer “for Dad”? Whatever it is, I know there will be something that will bring them back, if just for a moment, to our little home and the memories we are making here.
Does your food take you places? Why not stir up a memory today. Get in the kitchen with your kids and make something that reminds you and them of something special. Or, make something you love, and maybe one day, when they have it again, it will remind them of you.