Thursday, August 20, 2015

Iconic Food Memories

In a recent POST I talked about re-reading the Oz books in search of a soup sea -- and not finding it. Through the wonder of social media, a Facebook friend steered me to Kabumpo in Oz, one of the later Oz books by Ruth Plumley Thompson, and at long last I re-read the scene I'd remembered for close to sixty-five years.

Two hungry travelers are delighted to come upon a sea of vegetable soup and they encounter the king of the sea, a being made of soup bones with a soup bowl for a crown and a silver ladle for a scepter. He sings to them and then (and this was the important part for me) he wafts two hot, crispy, buttery rolls across the waves to them. 


It's the rolls I remember. Why? Because the day I read that chapter back in the third grade, when we went to the lunchroom, those same rolls were served -- big, puffy, yeasty, buttery rolls, made right there by the lunchroom ladies. It was a kind of intersection of real life and fiction and (obviously) I haven't forgotten.


Those rolls are part of a pantheon of remembered foods -- remembered and pretty much impossible to recreate: Aunt Mamie's (or more likely her cook Esther's) mayonnaise -- yellow, sweet, and lemony;  Memaw's (my grandmother Lane) Sunday chicken and dumplings; Ba's (my other grandmother) corn pone -- baked on a flat iron griddle to a brown crunch on the outside and a gooey, creamy interior that was the perfect place to put quite a lot of butter. 

Then there was the wonderful pink mamey sherbet at Cuervo's Cafe in Ybor City -- I've seen pictures of mameys but never encountered them except in that sherbet; the sandwich we bought from a guy with a little truck on the Appian Way in Rome -- roast pork, fragrant with garlic and rosemary, slapped between two thick slices of crusty peasant bread; the delicious heart attack of a sandwich from a pub in the Cotwolds -- brie and bacon on a thickly buttered baguette . . .


I could go on (I just remembered the leftover cold boiled shrimp a friend and I purloined in the middle of the night during a Girl Scout campout -- dipped in tomato-ey Catalina dressing, they were incredible. The stealth probably added to the flavor.) But I'm making myself hungry . . .

What about you? Do you have any foods lingering in your memory?


11 comments:

Ms. A said...

You made me hungry and I don't need to be hungry at 3:49am!

LOVE the bubble shots!!!

Barbara Rogers said...

Such fun bubbles, and memories of scrumptious foods! I think my sweet tooth is coming out...pralines...then baklava! But only after a wonderful meal that shall remain anonymous, but cooked by others.

Frances said...

Vicki, your lovely floating bubbles are a perfect embodiment of memories that occasionally rise to the surface.

I've too many food memories to list. A favorite memory is of my Grandmother's cream of potato soup...I think of her every time I prepare a similar soup myself.

xo

katy gilmore said...

Lovely post! I have a totally dumb food memory that came to the surface when you asked the question. I remember driving on a rainy night during a family vacation on Vancouver Island. My mother was making egg salad sandwiches in the front seat (!) I couldn't stand the white part then - and she made me a sandwich without the white. Why that's stuck for 60+ years? Kindness I think - paying attention - tasted good to me (though wouldn't want now)? Thanks for this post Viki.

Jim Egerton said...

You stirred me up with your memory. I have many, but two stand out. My fathers spaghetti rich with a bunch of garlic, ground beef, lots of tomato sauce and canned button mushrooms- cooked for hours. My grandmothers fried chicken and mashed potatoes the very very best ever.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Your floating bubble is perfect for food memories and what the invoke. I've got too many to mention, but my childhood favorites were my dad's baked ham sandwiches on homemade bread and with homemade mayonnaise and of course my mother's pimento cheese sandwiches (also with homemade mayonnaise. I guess homemade mayonnaise tops my list along with our local Bradley County pink tomatoes.
Sam

Gayle Pearson said...

Oh Vicki, memories are flooding back!
Mama's apple stack cake, cornbread baked in an iron skillet, my Aunt Viola's layer cake with thick chocolate icing made with freshly churned butter, chicken & cloud soft dumplings......the list goes on and on. :-)

Carol Crump Bryner said...

I had a vivid childhood book food memory for years - a young orphan girl is trying to decide between prospective adoptive parents. She is served a meal by the old woman who wants to adopt her. They have fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green peas. I have loved that meal ever since I read about it in that book. Recently, a friend helped me to find that book again. I ordered a copy so I could read check on my memory. The book is "Adopted Jane," and the dinner sounded just as good as it did when I was nine years old. Fun post Vicki! Food memories are wonderful.

Thérèse said...

Wonderful memory bubbles!
It would be buttered bread slices with powder sugar...

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, I love all your memories! Others have been surfacing for me all day long!

NCmountainwoman said...

Our elementary school lunch ladies also made fabulous yeast rolls. You could smell them all over the school. My favorite food memory is sharing a slice of chocolate cake on the back porch with my granny. (My mother having already warned both of us I was not to eat any cake before dinner.) It was delicious especially since it was a forbidden treat.