“What foods do you remember a departed loved one cooking for you?” _Michael Hebb, Let’s Talk about Death (Over Dinner): An Invitation and Guide to Life’s Most Important Conversation
Recently I ran across the the following question: “What foods do you remember a departed loved one cooking for you?” and it got me thinking.
My Aunt Violet immediately came to mind. As a child, I have faint memories of there being “complications” among the grown-ups in my family but all I personally remember, when going to my Uncle Charlie’s and Aunt Violet’s home was feeling extremely loved and celebrated. And one of the best ways was with Aunt Violet’s homemade cookies!
To this day, when I eat homemade chocolate chip or oatmeal (with raisins) cookies I think of my Aunt Violet.
And then there was my step-grandmother Kemp. I’m sorry to say that I was not very close to the Kemp side of my family. I don’t even remember my step grandmother’s name. I only have one memory of meeting her, but that memory stays with me to this day. One of the things I remember was that she made homemade poppy seed bread. I had never eaten anything like that in my life–the warm bread in my hands, the aroma, and those crunchy little poppy seeds–so exoctic and the flavor seemed to explode in my mouth. I think of that woman and her kindness in preparing homemade bread every time a see or eat food with poppy seeds.
And then there’s the living cooks I am still blessed to have in my family…
My mother-in-law (Ruby) was a rock star chef in my starving college days while I was dating Sonja. I’d visit on the weekends and Ruby would cook the most amazing meals. Her mac-in-cheese was incredible (still is) and that amazing Cherry Yum-Yum…
And those extended Thanksgiving and Easter family get-togethers. We’d all meet at Mama & Papa Durham’s home (both no longer with us) and the table groaned with amazing home cooked meals: plates of homemade fried chicken, ham, garden grown vegetables, Mama Durham’s nine-layered chocolate cake, Aunt Marian’s egg custard pie…amazing tastes and precious memories.
And then there’s my own mother…
I remember the first time dad took me fishing. I caught a small blue-gill bream. Dad celebrated my achievement by bringing the fish home and cleaning it and mom battered it and dropped it in the frying pan and cooked it for me for breakfast. Any time I eat home cooked fried fish I remember that magic moment.
Mom’s cubed steak and gravy, her chicken pot pie, homemade apple pie (absolutely the best!), Christmas desserts (lady fingers, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, chock-full of nuts chocolate chip cookies), fried okra, her amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, and those heavenly homemade biscuits!
All served at the dining room table (fine china for special occasions).
And my wife Sonja…
I’ve wrote about my dad’s advice to me concerning my new bride’s cooking elsewhere: Eat anything she prepares and brag on it and never compare it to your mother’s cooking and she will eventually become a great cook.
Dad was right.
Sonja’s signature meal is BBQ pork chops, homemade mac-n-cheese, slaw, green beans, and yeast rolls. (Cooked only for very special occasions now days.) Her red velvet cake is incredible (Once sold for 1000.00 at a charity auction–God bless Joe Dilullo.)
(Side note: With all due respect to my mom, mother-in-law and all the other great cooks and chefs out there, Sonja has perfected her recipe and now makes the best mac-in-cheese in the world. You will have to go to heaven to get one better.)
Virtually every meal is an adventure with Sonja. For 43 years and counting amazing dishes and memories keep coming out of “Sonja’s Kitchen” and make it to our family table.
Our table started with just the two of us and is now back to just the two of us, but there are a whole bunch of precious memories and savory dishes in between. And even now, every meal is cooked with love.
For sure, the kitchen and the kitchen table is a very, very special place that invokes a lot of precious memories.
Any special meal memories in your life?
I’d love to hear about them. Write them in the comment section below.
The ONE Things for today: Don’t let strangers feed you and your family all the time. Meals at home–even simple meals–make lasting memories and bring us together like no other place in all the world.