Metatalktail Hour: "The Episode of the Madeleine" January 5, 2019 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter – Euro Time Shift Edition! I'm filling in for Eyebrows to ask you to unloose your Proust and share what special dishes (or beverages) invoke vivid memories and take you back to a different time and/or place.

Tell us about the tastes and tidbits, sweet or savory, that transport you – and as always, this is a conversation starter, not a conversation limiter. We'd love to hear everything that's up with you! (Except politics.) And if you have suggestions for future topics, hit us up!
posted by taz to MetaFilter-Related at 7:47 AM (133 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Greggs recently releasing a vegan sausage roll actually provoked this for me – I have had one piece of sausage roll since the 80s, so imagining what a sausage roll tastes like caused me to imagine being in a very Anglo bakery on Flint Street in Bancroft, Ontario, circa 1987, all fluffy white bread, fluorescent lights, sausage rolls, peeling linoleum and butter tarts.

So I'm kind of hoping, this year, to end up somewhere in the UK with a Greggs, just to try one again.
posted by frimble (staff) at 8:01 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


My family makes a particular, not very traditional, version of hoppin' john for New Years Day. The recipe makes an absolutely enormous batch, and my boyfriend isn't a fan, so I have been eating my batch all week. The vinaigrette and crumbled bacon and peas and rice and still crunchy vegetables taste exactly like my parents' kitchen and the tail end of winter break from grade school.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:17 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


I have a very vivid memory of eating Campbell’s minestrone soup (now unavailable) while reading a paperback copy of Agatha Christie’s Death On the Nile when I was about 12 years old. I have no idea why this memory has stayed with me for over 40 years, but it’s definitely a “happy place” memory. And—I still have the book!
posted by bookmammal at 8:25 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]


borscht, dobos torte, paprikás, sneaking huge spoonfuls of prune lekvar right out of the jar; all dad memories.

my grandparents kitchen on avenue n always smelled of schmaltz and seedless rye, which is what i want right now this minute
posted by poffin boffin at 8:40 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Something I started making again in the last few years (but which has now been curtailed as we cut back on meat) is a kind of lamb stew from my childhood. There were so few meals I actively liked when I was a kid that this one stands out. It's basically layer of diced lamb in a casserole dish, tin of tomatoes, diced onion, s&p, covered in breadcrumbs and then layer of cheese, baked.

Can we mention hates? Because fried mince basked in a marrow with veggies still sickens me.
posted by biffa at 8:42 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Since I'm here I might as well mention that we popped out to pick up a few things and I saw a cherry sauce that said it made great milkshake and I remembered I had in some of that Mozart chocolate liqueur and milk and ice cream, and you know what? They were right! Boozy adult cherry & chocolate milkshake! Voila, the ideal meal substitute if you want to build weight and drink that isn't Guinness. I would prefer no one to work out how lardy it actually is for me if you don't mind.
posted by biffa at 8:55 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


I want the primroses were over's family recipe for Hoppin' John.
posted by taz (staff) at 8:58 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


Me, too!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:08 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I desperately miss Team Flakes. It was a cereal like Special K, but it never got soggy. They were industrial strength.

Food is very complicated for me, especially food from my past. I think I make, or at least have made every dish that I enjoyed in childhood. Someday, though, I am going to have a chili size and a brownie sundae at Bob's Big Boy and not give a single fuck.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:15 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Years ago, at a restaurant in Boston (Clio’s, I think), I ate a dish that included a cube of bacon that had been Manipulated and subjected to crazy kitchen techniques until it was perfectly cooked, tender and crisp by turns. I think about that meal often.

On a slightly different take, I cook Christmas dinner this year. It was a pork stew, and I cooked it in the old enameled cast-iron Dutch oven that my mom received as a wedding present, and that she gave me when I moved away. I felt a strong connection with her while I was cooking in that vessel that is older than I am, and that I’ll probably pass on to my heirs someday. I guess that sums up continuity and transience, covering both Proust and Genji.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:15 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Nostalgic food? {thinks a'while} Birds Angel Delight, Wagon Wheels - when they were big, Jammy Dodgers, Corona Cherryade; some of which are still around. Also some varieties of plums, apples and pears picked straight off a Vale of Evesham orchard tree - I still find the concept of buying fruit in a shop or supermarket a bit strange, and always will.

Drinks I have unhealthy attachments to: a mug of hot milk. I used to really like a mug of hot milk when I was very young (age two and onwards). It was only some years later I learned that, being a loud child who would often stay loud long into the evening, my folks would give me a mug of hot milk. With a teaspoon of whisky covertly stirred in; being hot disguised the flavour. And I would go from being loud, to being asleep for a long time, within a few short minutes. A win all round.

(That wasn't the only dubious and widescale practice, not by a long way, from where I came from; if 2019 social service standards were applied to 1970s very rural Worcestershire then pretty sure most of my primary school classmates would have been taken away. I'm thinking of taking one last trip round my old rural haunts - the ones that haven't been turned into bland housing estates - later in the year, then am done with the Vale. Perhaps.)

Food I nostalgically do not like {thinks a'while} everything used to disguise the taste of Cod Liver Oil when I was very young. Because, unlike whisky in hot milk, the disguise never worked.

+ + + + +

Yesterday. Unfortunately, underneath the bay window of my main room - which overhangs the street in this market town somewhat - there's a small bit of shelter; people walking by will occasionally stop there and chat. And, even with the window closed, I can usually hear everything. And it's surprising what personal information people will happily divulge in the street, but that's another thing.

And so, yesterday evening, two twenty-something men of a somewhat flashy disposition (one was wearing a fedora, tilted at a provocatively jaunty angle) walked slowly down the street and stopped underneath my bay window, to then indulge in a conversation about music. Specifically, guitarists. Which went on, loudly, for far too long.

Eventually I lost my patience - lost it completely - opened the window fully and yelled out "Comparing Doc Watson to Mark Knopfler is as pointless as comparing an avocado to a raclette cheese."

They stopped talking and hurriedly moved away.

And that's when I realised that this area is becoming gentrified and I really should move to somewhere else. Thankfully, my new passport should be here within the next few days, and other matters proceeding at an unusually brisk pace mean this may become a reality sooner rather than later.

+ + + + +

My last cake of 2018 was very nice. That's me completely done with that year.
posted by Wordshore at 9:22 AM on January 5 [31 favorites]


You need a passport to escape hipsters in the 2019 UK? Truly, it is a land of marvels.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:40 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


My husband and I ate at a near empty restaurant on our drive from LA to Monterey Bay called something like "Market St." It was the absolutely best seafood I have ever had. And it was the kind of night where even if the restaurant had been packed, I would always remember it as the two of us sitting in our globe of candle light.
posted by CMcG at 9:40 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


Ha, sorry, I realize that was a bit of a tease. Here is an imgur link to the original, battered newspaper recipe that became a part of my Midwestern Army brat upbringing after we moved to Virginia and caught on to the hoppin' john tradition.

It's a little too long to type out on my phone, so forgive the slightly difficult to read text. It's a half cup red wine vinegar in the dressing along with olive oil, Tabasco sauce and Dijon mustard. I think the rest is legible....
posted by the primroses were over at 9:48 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]


Orange lollipops immediately take me back to Adventureland at Disneyland.

Watermelon Jolly Ranchers evoke memories of playing Age of Empires on my very first PC.

Grape candy sticks have me thinking I'm wandering around the gift shops of the San Diego Zoo.

Blackberry Crystal Geyser soda is a rainy summer trip to San Francisco with Motown blasting from our Volvo's cassette player.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:54 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Taking this question in another direction, I am obsessed with recreating a Victorian Christmas dinner. I've done it once, but I overcooked the goose (it was my first time making goose) and the plum pudding was inedible.

The first time I met the mister's mom, it was Easter Sunday and she was cooking a ham. "Uh, mom, you do know we're Jewish, right?" "But the meat sales are so good!" So my obsession doesn't seem that weird to him, because at least it's not an Easter ham. (And the Christian holiday related meat sales really are SO GOOD.)
posted by Ruki at 10:03 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Hot Tamales candy = high school.

I am addicted to candied ginger and ginger beer while doing outside activities and they evoke a ton of mountain/desert associations if I eat/drink 'em elsewhere.

The smell of sagebrush can sometimes make me feel so homesick I'm overcome with a terrible fierce longing.

Wild raspberries take me back to this wonderful sea of wild raspberries my husband and I found on a backpacking trip near Crested Butte, Colorado, which was in this wonderful smelling aspen grove that had a particular smell due to the iron rich bedrock they grew on. It had been raining a lot but it was that particular time in the afternoon when the sun shines golden straight down through the dark clouds. . . just right. We sat on the wet ground and ate so many we stained our hands red and washed 'em down with fresh spring water that was so cold it made our teeth ache.

Doing geological research on the Jurassic coast near the boundary between Devon and Dorset: Due to the tide we'd often have a long lunch "in the Jurassic" in a small pub in Dorset that served a plowman's lunch with this Stilton cheese. . . oh that Stilton. Have tried to find a similar tasting Stilton ever since. Then we'd move on to an area in Devon and near the end of the day we'd hike up this huge hill and go to another pub that overlooked the sea and while all salty from the sea air and kind of sandy and just really tired-contented in a good way from a good day of hard work we'd sit outside and have what we called a sandy shandy "in the Triassic". To this day the smell of Stilton and the taste of a shandy - never have found a shandy that tasted as good as those - takes me back and I smell the rocks and the sea air and hear the ocean, think of the marvelous fossils we saw, working the beaches of Mary Anning, and in general feeling just about as happy as one can feel.
posted by barchan at 10:16 AM on January 5 [26 favorites]


madeleines is how I got to know mr. lemon_icing. Like all home cooks, the joy of cooking means finding avenues to disburse your goods so there’s room to cook/bake again. I created a sweetie-treats list at work; email announcement to my favourites letting them know what was on offer and to come by and scoop some up. He’s a fearsome, intelligent man, very private, one of the best in our business, and some how he ended up on my list. Every few months, he’d ask very gently : ummm, are madeleines coming up soon? Then one November day, I made him his own batch of a dozen, delivered warm on a Friday morning so he’d have some to munch over the weekend. The following Monday, a gift sat on my desk. And that was that.

Fast forward to last week or so. A giant box sits under the tree. it’s the Kenwood stand mixer I’ve been staring at for a month. My old Kenwood is fine...but this one? Squeeeeee!

I used it for the first time on Boxing Day — madeleines joined us for breakfast.
posted by lemon_icing at 10:57 AM on January 5 [31 favorites]


Graham cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in milk take me back to my childhood (when the peanut butter would have been accompanied by marshmallow fluff.)

A food experience from my childhood that apparently can never be recaptured is the experience of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken as it used to be in the 70's, or as it seemed to me back then. Mr. Redstart and I both agree that today's KFC is pretty sad compared to our glorious memories of its delicious perfection in our youth, but we don't know if it's because they've changed something about the way they make it or if it's just that our tastes have changed. If I'm ever given the opportunity to use a time machine I'm definitely going to make a stop in 1974 or so and bring back a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken so we can find out.
posted by Redstart at 11:01 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Food memories I’m so fond of
- pan-fried just-caught rainbow trout, cooked (and caught) by my grandma at a campsite in the Rockies. I got my first taste of milky sweet coffee that day too. I was about 7.
- espresso and cornetti at the now-gone cafe Bernasconi in Rome
- the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever eaten, from a food truck somewhere along Big Sur, while hitchhiking in the late 70’s
posted by dbmcd at 11:07 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Fluuuuuuuuuff!

I had a lot of food sensitivities as a kid (that have been mercifully fading as I get older) but there was one meal that was the ur-perfect meal for kid me

- Tuna salad sandwich (on white bread, just celery, pretty low on the mayo but not TOO low)
- Chocolate milk, made with Quik
- Fritos before there was more than one flavor

We rarely got chips at home, I never ate any kind of fish (I still don't) and nowadays chocolate milk is basically a dessert drink and supermarket white bread is not in my rotation. It was good because you could put it together in almost no time (as opposed to peanut butter and bacon which was my favorite but complicated to make in the days before pre-cooked bacon was a thing). That meal brings me right back to a kitchen table at my mom's place, a place we're probably selling this year. But we'll take the kitchen table with us.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:10 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


1992, backpacking through Europe for the first time, on a strict budget, so not many restaurants, mostly ham and cheese sandwiches. Staying in Perugia the old parts of the city are in a medieval hill fort looking out over Umbria, incredible landscape, ate some really good bread and ham and an amazing gruyere-like nutty cheese. I still remember the flavor and the feeling of being there after 27 years. Comes back to me every time I get a really good gruyere or emmental.
posted by signal at 11:21 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


A few years ago I was in India for my cousin's wedding. We were shopping in a busy mall and I was getting overwhelmed. I stepped outside to get some fresh air and there was a street vendor with a cart and he was selling freshly baked sweet potatoes. I was hungry so I asked for one, he baked the potato, cut it up, sprinkled some fresh pepper and then lemon juice on top and handed it to me.

I still consider that small snack on a busy road outside of a mall to be one of the best meals I've ever tasted in my entire life. Anytime I see or hear about sweet potato, that memory instantly pops into my brain.
posted by Fizz at 11:25 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


Cheap chicken ramen, frozen peas. It reminds me of what might have been my first time living solo as a young adult in an actual old timey rooming house in Santa Ana, CA. I had a shared kitchen and bathroom kind of thing and the place was a huge old Victorian that would have been amazing if not so seriously dingy. It came with a raging alcoholic resident that had been there for decades and a nosy, strenuous resident landlady that liked to snoop in your room while you were away and other fun perks, like something out of a penny dreadful. (I set up my computer and very early connectix quickcam and one of those basic motion activated recording apps. She was so amazingly wrongfully irate about that even being a thing I might do.)

Anyway, I had cooked my first meal there, and it was pretty horrible. A gummy melange of drained ramen noodles, frozen peas and melted slices of American cheese. I remember resolving to teach myself how to actually cook so I didn't have to eat crap like this.

I did learn how to cook and even know my way around a pro kitchen lineup from dishpit to burner. I still eat ramen, though, because sometimes you just want a quick bowl of hot noodles and broth.

Also, I just watched a Huell Howser bit where he was at In-n-Out investigating the secret menu and history of it, and I was actually homesick for a moment. But on the other hand, I'm remembering one reason why I was such a horrible cook back then was how often I (and everyone) ate out. Often sitting in traffic or in a car.
posted by loquacious at 11:31 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


My sister took us to a neighborhood izakaya on the last night of my first trip to Japan. It was a very casual place and we enjoyed all sorts of foods -- everything from cheese wrapped in bacon to more traditionally Japanese foods. The one thing that really stuck with me was the yaki onigiri. Just plain rice formed into a shape and grilled. I literally had dreams about it when I got home!

Then last night, I was watching Salt Fat Acid Heat and the episode was in Japan. A traditional soy sauce maker served her a casual meal of grilled chickin and yaki onigiri and it brought that flavor memory back again.

Such a simple treat, but so delicious!
posted by missmerrymack at 11:33 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


When I went to Japan as a wee baby neanderthal (13) I was still a very picky eater due to my un-diagnosed autism causing some serious sensory issues with what I put in my mouth. So no sushi for me. Or much of anything really. Two experiences really stood out. One was kitsune udon. I realized I had to eat something, and udon was just noodles in broth, surely that wouldn't bother me? And it didn't. Kitsune udon in particular, between the floating pocket of tofu (which i liked!) and the fish cake (also liked) just sort of broadened my horizons a little bit. The other experience was a traditional vegetarian meal in a monastery. Soup- Rice and pickles. And oh man, were those pickles good. Japan was the first real test of my picky-ness and it was instrumental for my discovery that it wasn't taste that bothered me, but texture. Once I figured that out, a whole world of food opened up for me, and now I'll eat nearly anything. (as long as the texture is right)I went from a seriously underweight individual to the healthy and robust hominid I am today. All because of a fish cake and some pickles.

----

The potatoes are in! A good New Year's day's work. It got a little involved, and weirdly the post I put up on imgur which was almost a how-to vis-a-vie potato planting got a lot of positivity. Same with the mowing post, which got some great discussion on the virtures and vices of rotary mowing. Perhaps Imgur isn't a hive of scum and villany? (JK it totally is) It was possibly a futile endeavor as this morning the heavens opened and it poured. And it's going to continue pouring for a week at least, which is good for my plants but also good for the weeds. Last rain we had kinda slightly screwed up my baby green onions, the force of the rain kinda drove a few out of the ground. Maybe the rain will save my blue basil plant, but i'm not holding my breath. I might run out during a dry spell and cut some of the undergrowth back. I also need to give everything a light fertilizing, its that time of year. Fish emulsion I think, don't want anything too strong. I might spin up an askme to figure out the exact type of mole pepper I have- what they should look like, and when to harvest them. Because it's the only really viable pepper plant I have left, and I'm pretty sure I should have been pruning it, but how? like a tomato? SO many questions- but that's what askme is for.

I hope everyone had a good new years, and that this year doesn't suck! go 2019 whoo hoo!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:01 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


As much as I love food, for whatever reason I've never had any food related nostalgic memories. Music, yes, but not food. So it's fascinating reading everyone's comments here.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:46 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Oh man. I live on the East Coast now, but there is nothing like a Midwest Friday night fish fry. Almost every restaurant had its version, from the diviest bar serving it on a wooden truncheon, to a mom and pop, to the hipster restaurants with high tops and fancy beer, it was all the best. Perfectly fried, piping hot, served with fries, all you can eat. Prices ranged from $5 to $8. You had to get there early, or wait in line, watching the servers carrying plates of fried fish to all the other diners. If you were lucky, they'd also have malt vinegar, if not, it was tartar sauce, or maybe a squeeze of lemon. Some places had cod, others perch, or even catfish, but it was all pretty darned good!

Sure, I can get fried haddock or cod here, if I'm willing to travel (I live in the sticks), but it's just not the same as having ALL the restaurants doing Friday night fish fry. :::sigh:::
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:48 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


It's funny, I love (LOVE) cooking and eating and have a menu of foods that I consider my comfort foods, but they aren't really childhood foods. Part of that is I became vegetarian when I was 16, so a lot of previously eaten foods were off the menu suddenly. Part of it I think is just that my parents are also really good cooks and were constantly trying new recipes and techniques, so we never had a traditional Sunday dinner or anything like that. My husband's family are, to be honest, not stellar cooks, going back several generations, and their family recipes and comfort foods are all quite standardized and still easy to replicate. It's kind of weird to me that when they get together they always have the same things (it's a major selling point of the get togethers, that the traditional foods of their people will be consumed), because I don't have that with my family. When we get together, we perform never before seen feats of stunt cooking.

The time in my life I am most nostalgic for is when I was living in England with my dad on sabbatical, when I was 12. It was 1987 and British food was... not great, so food is not a huge part of trying to recapture those feelings, with a couple notable exceptions. Scones with clotted cream. A Cadbury dairy milk bar. Fish and chips. There's a chippy here in Pittsburgh that's quite authentic. I hit up like once a year.


On preview, jinx Greg_Ace.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:48 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


A whiff of a screwdriver will immediately transport me back to the morning of my first ever hangover at 19 years old, belly down on the floor of Ballet Austin’s summer workshop. As my co-conspirators all claimed illness and sat out the first morning class observing, I watched my reflection turn a greenish hue in the spaces between them as our Russian stretching instructor gently but insistently pushed down on my legs to eliminate the last 3 inches remaining between my feet and the floor.

If the devil comes for my soul when I die, I’ll know I sold it in a split second to avoid spewing all over my observing co-conspirators.
posted by romakimmy at 12:56 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


Ironically, soren_lorensen, my family was like your husband's, with a constantly recycled set of repetitive and simple (and kinda boring) meals. But I have no nostalgia at all for such food and in fact that was one of the main reasons I deliberately taught myself to cook as an adult and constantly seek out new things to try (one result of which is that my son decided to become a chef, so I must be doing something right).
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:07 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


I rarely eat baked potatoes, but there was a time in my life--my junior year abroad in university, when I studied at the University of Edinburgh--when I ate one pretty much every day. I was taking classes at the university's New College, which was just off the Royal Mile. On my way back from morning classes, I'd usually get a baked potato with vegan haggis (yet shut up it's good) and a square of tiffin from a takeout place. It was marvelous. I can't eat a baked potato without thinking of it.
posted by duffell at 1:09 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


By the way, I suggest a future Metatalktail Hour question might be "What is your aesthetic?"

We just moved, and we've been decorating, so I've been thinking about how strange and eclectic (and to many, possibly offputting) my "dream aesthetic" would be, if I could decorate to my liking and didn't have to consider things like, y'know, the fact that other people live in this house too. :-)
posted by duffell at 1:11 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


When I was a kid, my parents were incredibly generous in offering our house as a place for me and my friends to hang out. My room was up in the attic, which was pretty cool. Whenever I had friends over, my mom would make a batch or two of the most amazing gingersnaps (recipe below), and then bring us a big plate of fresh, warm, still soft, cookies while we got up to whatever teenage girl shenanigans were possible in my (very shenanigan free) bedroom. I just made them the other night for New Year's, and all of a sudden I'm pretty sure I was 14 again.

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening or margarine, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all purpose or unbleached flour
2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves

Lightly grease (not oil) cookie sheets. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients; blend well. Stir in remaining ingredients; blend well. Chill dough for easier handling if desired. Heat oven to 375*. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 375* for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 1-2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 48 cookies.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:21 PM on January 5 [21 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

Early American Goodwill.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:27 PM on January 5 [16 favorites]


Lots of nostalgic food memories - my family is very food focused (see myriad previous comments about cookies, Practice Thanksgiving, etc).

Today's fun project was cleaning out my childhood bedroom (which I haven't used meaningfully since 2008), because it was time. So, that's done. Took a couple of kinda frantic hours, but took home a bunch of stuff, reshelved a bunch of books, found a lot of dust bunnies (at this point, angry, feral dust llamas). And now my hands hate me because the air is dry and dust is desiccating.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 1:30 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Picture a women's college in the mid 90's and I'm in the theatre 'til all hours and when I'm done, only the student centre is still serving food. If you went to this school you'll know it immediately - the special was your choice of bread with tomatoes and your choice of cheese melted over it. That and a giant coffee - cinnamon flavour was the best one - and I could maybe think about some non-theatre homework.

I still want melted muenster cheese when I'm feeling stressed.
posted by wellred at 2:42 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


I know how to make a number of family dishes that say "home" to me, so whenever I make Hungarian noodles, black beans and rice, sauerkraut & meatballs or my mom's potato salad, it takes me back to dinner at home or grandma's house when I was a teenager.

Some of my happiest (and earliest) childhood memories were of staying overnight at my grandparents' house as a toddler. Grandpa would make me over-easy fried eggs for breakfast, and taught me to dip the toast in the yolks, which was delicious. On the other hand, scrambled eggs and ketchup take me back home to my mom, as does the combo of a peanut butter sandwich and chicken noodle soup for a simple, comforting lunch.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:54 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

Land's End catalog model.
posted by Fizz at 2:57 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


A food experience from my childhood that apparently can never be recaptured is the experience of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken as it used to be in the 70's

This! There was a bucket of KFC at every family gathering when I was a kid (usually brought by my divorced uncle Art who, in retrospect, probably didn't know how to cook.) I remember it as being really tasty and something everyone enjoyed.


We get KFC maybe once a year or so, and it's ok, I guess. It seems greasier than I remember. And the dark meat seems stringy, while the white meat is dry. It just doesn't have the same quality of mouth feel as it did back in the day.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:13 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


When I was younger, back in the early 70's, I came home from school to an unusual smell in the kitchen. My mother proudly proclaimed she was making "Doc Severinsen's meatballs!".

Apparently Doc had appeared on some daytime show and given out his stellar meatball recipe.

Well, they were awful.

Truly awful. I don't know if my mother got the recipe wrong or something else happened, but Doc Severinsen's Meatballs became a thing of legend in my house.

I have since tried to Google the recipe but it doesn't seem to exist on the internet.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 3:24 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Fresh hard rolls from the bakery are something that I have so seldom now that when I do, it's like being a kid in Jersey again. Either just split and buttered or as the roll for a Taylor Ham and Egg breakfast sandwich.
posted by octothorpe at 4:19 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


My mother made sugar cookies that were beloved by all my siblings and I. She also made huckleberry jam. Real Idaho wild huckleberry jam. I miss both of those so much.

I have the sugar cookie recipe - my sister-in-law claims she can duplicate them, but she puts in too much flour and that makes them very dry and hard. When my mother made them, they were very soft and cakey (although still a little bit dry, but we didn't care), with a touch of nutmeg. Part of the reason they are hard to duplicate is the instruction for flour: "add enough flour to make a soft dough."

A tangent about the cookies. My mother didn't make them until I was a teenager, and I am the youngest of five siblings - my youngest sibling is 5 years older than I am. The title of the recipe is "Mrs. Oviatt's Sugar Cookies." Mrs. Oviatt was Edna Oviatt who was my grandmother's best friend when my mother was growing up in Newport WA. Wanda Oviatt was the same age as my mother and they were friends of a sort. (When Wanda got too bossy, my mother would just go home.) Somehow during my early teens, my parents met up with Wanda again.

The strange little twist is that when I was way too young, I married Wanda's grandson, who is my daughter's father. We divorced many years ago, however I am really glad my mother got that recipe when she had the chance. Besides my daughter that recipe may have been the best thing that came from that relationship.

I kept intending to work on duplicating my mother's rendition of those cookies and kept having excuses, working too much, traveling for work, etc. Now that I have time to work on the recipe, I can't do it in my kitchen because flour in the air aggravates my daughter's asthma. I have a clear memory of the very soft texture of the dough from being around when Mother made the cookies. Really, it was so soft you couldn't really handle it, just use a lot of flour when rolling it out. I have to find a kitchen where I can try out several batches, if necessary, while weighing the ingredients to make the recipe more reproducible.

Off to try making some macarons... I have to have cookies now.
posted by Altomentis at 4:48 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Canned Vienna sausages, sweet pickles, and saltine crackers. About every ten years, I get a craving for this childhood lunch. Once is usually enough.
posted by Sunday Morning at 4:56 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


My childhood food memories are blighted by my mother's wretchedly terrible "cooking". There were canned veggies that she boiled beyond death of all taste and nutrition, and cheap cuts of meat overcooked into dry toughness. I think my sister and I got most of our nutrition from cottage cheese and ketchup. Ketchup on everything made the long chewing and dry swallowing a bit easier. But, in the summer we would spend a few weeks on our aunt and uncle's farm where I was allowed to milk a cow and drink some of the warm creamy milk before the cream was skimmed off. And my aunt would boil vast pots of fresh sweet corn for us; we got to eat as much as we wanted of tender, gently cooked ears of corn that we had just picked, slathered with fresh butter that we had just churned.

Every once in awhile I eat some corn on the cob that tickles the memory of that corn, but it never seems quite as tasty as that long ago corn. One thing that is almost as good as I remember, is the raw, unskimmed milk that my roommate picks up at a farm most weeks. The milk is cold instead of warm but the creaminess and sweetness is the same. I can close my eyes and remember the early morning sun and the fragrant hay in the coolness of the dim barn as I milked the gentlest cow. Occasionally, i skim off a little of the heaviest cream and shake it in a small bottle until it turns to butter. It is still just as sweet.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 5:23 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


One grandmother made biscuits twice a day. Those were amazing biscuits; and she did it without a recipe: there was a shallow wooden bowl that always had residual flour left over from the last biscuit-making. I learned how to make them, but the ingredients aren't the same and nothing's quite as good.

The other grandmother made chicken and pastry that was a Sunday treat. We would show up at her house and the kitchen counters would be covered with pastry waiting to be dropped into the pot of boiling chicken stock.... mmmm. So good.

We used to take a little John boat across the intracoastal to the marshland at low tide and sein for a shrimp meal. Those shrimp were so fresh they would jump out of the sink when washing them. No shrimp nowadays taste like those.

There was one magical meal my husband and I had at a hotel in downtown Cincinnati during a snowy January. It was very near our anniversary so we splurged on the nice restaurant in the hotel we were in. We were poor so this was highly unusual for us. I don't remember exactly what we ate other than it was devine and we uncharacteristically ordered wine. But it's the service that was even more exquisite. Everything was timed perfectly. The wine glasses were refilled without us noticing, the food arrived without fanfare or a waiter getting in the way. I have never experienced such wonderful service that was neither seen nor heard. And that is what made a very good meal into one that I still cherish.
posted by mightshould at 5:28 PM on January 5 [13 favorites]


Once upon a time in the mid-to-late 90's I was working at a Wild Oats doing graveyard shelf stocking. I worked in the herbal extracts-ish section. This goth girl in my department dragged me around and pulled a chocolate bar off the shelf and said 'you have to try this'.

That weird confection was curl up on the floor in a little ball awesome, the closest comparison I can come up with is heroin.

It was like a Nestle Crunch bar almost (puffed rice in chocolate), but the little crispy bits were more like Pop-Rocks, and were raspberry flavored.

You'd put a piece in your mouth and let it melt and enjoy the chocolate, then the little bits would melt out, and they would just explode in your mouth with this heavenly strong POW of raspberry.

I've spent decades trying to find the same thing (it's evidently maybe european and discontinued and a mystery). I've actually tried finding raspberry Pop-Rocks and sprinkling them between chunks of chocolate... no dice.

That chocolate haunts me to this day.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:33 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


When I think of water ice, I always go back to the one shack next to the ball fields in my hometown. We’d go there after baseball practice.

Spaetzle really reminds me of our time in Germany. Pan fried, smothered in carmelized onions and gruyere.

I decided to start keeping a cooking journal this year so I can actually remember what I cooked and hopefully refine what I’ve been doing.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:38 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Germany 1953, my babysitter Frau GrossJohan makes steamed, quartered Brussels sprouts, fries them in butter and nutmeg, and then scrambles egg into them. I have never forgotten how good they were. I am into the sprouts right now. Back then there were still bomb craters in the forest across the road. She was so sweet! I still remember her. I was three years old then. I learned German in a very few months and became the family interpreter, then my parents decided to become linguists, and we spoke nothing but German at home, to make that happen.
posted by Oyéah at 5:38 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


My childhood food memories are blighted by my mother's wretchedly terrible "cooking". There were canned veggies that she boiled beyond death of all taste and nutrition, and cheap cuts of meat overcooked into dry toughness.

Are we related?
posted by bongo_x at 5:43 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

"The Road"
posted by bongo_x at 5:45 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


When I was a kid, in the late 70s and early 80s, my mom used to make pan-fried chicken. Later on in the 80s she got healthy and there was no more fried chicken. Over the years I had the occasional KFC or other fast-food chicken, but it always tasted dismal. Not so long ago I went into a restaurant that had on the menu, "pan-fried chicken, 30-minute wait". I ordered it and when I took the first bite was transported back to my mom's fried chicken.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:51 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Wow! So many taste memories. Thanks for this topic, Taz. It helps me remember that I am wealthy beyond measure in memories and experiences with family and friends whatever else may happen.

- Cinnamon toothpicks and red foil packs of Sen-Sen = second grade and a wonderful little neighborhood.
- Grade School = Kipper snacks and saltines in my lunch – not a favorite of the students around me. The occasional liverwurst sandwich, over one of which I met my first love.
- Single container of yogurt for lunch = high school

My mother was a fair cook and a great baker. Luckily when I was only 7 we left Spokane and moved to California where my mother discovered the magic of fresh vegetables cooked gently. I am grateful that I will never again have to face a piece of lettuce with a slice of canned pineapple topped by a scoop of cottage cheese, dabbed with mayonnaise and sprinkled with a little bit of paprika.

Making fudge on the spur of the moment, the soft ball in water testing; the occasional batch of spoon fudge. My mother impatiently snatching the spoon out of our hands. The recipe was from the original Betty Crocker Cookbook. Other chocolate fudge is just cheating to me.

When I was the only child remaining at home, my parents had a couple nickels to rub together and we ate out from time to time. We had breakfast at the Benbow Inn near Garberville when I was about 14. It was the first time I had honeydew melon and the only time I liked it. We used to eat at a tiny French restaurant in Sebastopol called Pomme de Terre. We always had to have the excellent artichoke as a first course with a butter and lemon dipping sauce.

Escargot, and quail salad, and duck breast at a now-gone French restaurant on Lake Tahoe with several bottles of exquisite wine and an owner who could blind taste and identify an astonishing number of wines. Before that meal, spending $150 for dinner didn’t exist in my world. Later I wondered why I agreed to pay any share – I was a single mom, my future second husband was perfectly able to pay for both of us. I ate many of my favorite meals and learned to really appreciate food with him. Radicchio salad at Terra.

There is only one carrot cake as far as I am concerned, Just Desserts. Also Upside Down Pear gingerbread.

My first glass of Louis XIII cognac. The very best taste memory of all.
posted by Altomentis at 5:54 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


My last cake of 2018 was very nice. That's me completely done with that year.

Wordshore, I had to start following your Flickr because of all the cakes. Do you go to every village fair in the UK?
posted by Altomentis at 5:59 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Every time I read a Wordshore account, I feel cleansed. It brings me back into a time that I wish to go to, it makes me feel good, and to hear him talking about stopping it chills me. I hope that isn't true, because he is so good, so good, like the best of so good of this site, that I really truly look forward to his posts, and it makes me feel so good to know about cake in the realm, he is like the Harry Potter of Metafilter, he leads us down the path of cake and we follow him, gladly, please no, don't ever leave us, I beg you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:12 PM on January 5 [16 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

Karnaca, but without the simultaneous plagues of bloodflies and religious fanatics.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:15 PM on January 5


American Airlines used to serve these ham and cheese croissants before landing on westbound trans-atlantic flights. Their smell is seared into my brain, 20+ years later. I don't actually know what the smell is because I've occasionally encountered it accompanying the reheating of other foods and, I think, perhaps no food at all. But it's somehow the smell of my childhood.

One of the stories I tell about my brother is that, when he was in college and was suddenly responsible for booking plane tickets about himself, he thought the way you bought a plane ticket was you phoned American Airlines and paid whatever they asked. And, on the one hand, that's absolutely ridiculous and, on the other hand, that is just how big a role the ORD-MAN route played in our lives.
posted by hoyland at 6:21 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I have always said that char siu is my madeleine. It makes me remember my family's favorite restaurant when I was growing up, where my parents started going while they were dating. We ate there for years, in Manhattan and then in Queens, where it moved before it ultimately closed. I'm always looking for roast pork that will measure up, mostly without success. I often think about being a vegetarian but I'd miss the quest too much.
posted by ferret branca at 6:26 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


For some reason, the first thing that comes to mind is Tang. It had a very specific taste and scent, of course, which I loved, but also there was the light clacking sound of using a metal spoon to stir up the liquid in that particular kind of 6-faceted translucent plastic or pebbled amber plastic tumbler, like the Pizza Hut ones only that other color.

I had a Tang donut from Voodoo Doughnut, and it did not live up to that, partly 'cause I had waited until the next morning to eat it, then ended up getting some kind of silent treatment from my travel partner at the time, but also because it was just. so. sweet. I think it's better in drink form.
posted by limeonaire at 7:11 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Constant Comment tea. Instant memories of sharing a cup with my grandma. She had an awesome assortment of mugs and it was part of the routine to select one. My favorite was a Garfield mug. I wonder what happened to it when she passed away.
posted by gryphonlover at 7:18 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Doc Severinsen's Meatballs became a thing of legend in my house.

Apparently, when it came to cooking, he was just tooting his own horn.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:20 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


I was thinking I didn't really have any, but reading through my thread made me realize that's a lie.

My mom isn't a super great cook, and my dad's kind of a picky eater. My childhood had lots of Hamburger Helper and salads that were plain iceberg lettuce with Russian dressing. They are very much meat and potatoes people, easy on the potatoes. It's funny that I somehow ended up as a "foodie", and a vegetarian one at that (mostly. I'm on a vegetarian sabbatical right now).

That said, my food memories lie with my grandmas.

My maternal grandmother made an excellent chicken and dumpling soup... The dumplings were basic egg+flour, dropped in and boiled in a broth. She'd add wagon wheel pasta to it too, which I loved. I can't think of any other time I've had wagon wheels. Sadly underused.

My other grandma would make sticky buns.. frozen bread dough cut up into rolls, squeezed in a pan. Brown and white sugar on top of them, then cream (?) poured over. Fridge overnight, bake in the morning. The cream and sugar would meld into a caramel-type sauce, almost, underneath the bread rolls which weren't sweet at all. Ngh, so good. I didn't get her recipe (which I'm pretty sure wasn't written anywhere anyway), and her dementia has stolen all of her cooking ability away. I did get her cookbook collection, which includes many, many family and church cookbooks so I'm hoping it's in there.
posted by Fig at 7:23 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Every once in awhile I eat some corn on the cob that tickles the memory of that corn, but it never seems quite as tasty as that long ago corn.

Corn literally picked and immediately eaten right there in the field was a revelation to me as an adult. Even the best "fresh" corn from the market is a pale imitation.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:36 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]




"Millions of American women, and some men, commit that outrage every summer day. They are turning a superb treat into mere provender. Shucked and boiled in water, sweet corn is edible and nutritious; roasted in the husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted, nothing else, it is ambrosia. No chef’s ingenuity and imagination have ever created a finer dish..."

-Rex Stout

(Redacted last line because WTF!, Rex.)
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Wheat Germ and scramble eggs reminds me of my grandmother and her house in Ann Arbor during Christmas time.

Hmm. Oh, Coney dogs used to smell like small pockets, say 500 yards of Flint, Mi.

I taste melted French butter in a pan and have to add more.
posted by clavdivs at 7:51 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Ever winter, I recreate a fresher version of my grandmother's soup for my kids. One quart of home-canned tomato juice, a cup-plus of chicken stock, and 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup of cooked alphabet pasta, a little salt. I have fond memories of pulling this soup from my grandmother's refrigerator, and the way she'd always stick a square of wax paper between the soup and the lid of an often-used glass mayonnaise jar.

Yesterday afternoon, my son and I did some maintenance on the pig fence, and then I noticed that their feeder was sinking in mud and we had to move that, too, and my kid ended up cold and covered in mud from hoodie to boot heel. Took one step in the house and said "I. need. to shower. Can I have soup?" Had a big mug of tomato-alphabet waiting for him by the time he got cleaned up, and it was the perfect and right thing to make just then.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:00 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Steaks can take me dozens of places - grilled; broiled, charcoal grilled; ... my very own olfactory teleportation food.
posted by Afghan Stan at 8:09 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Growing up in Bavaria, Leberkassemmel (‘liver cheese’ on a kaiser roll) was the customary street food. We would eat it when running errands or at street fairs or later on, at the only hole-in-the-wall in Munich that was still selling food at 1AM to drunk college students.

I hadn’t really eaten this dubious delicacy for a couple of years since we moved to the US and recently was struck by a sudden Madeleine moment when...eating Spam Musubi on a Hawaii vacation. The two actually have a very similar flavor profile. Simple white carbs and nondescript ground-up salty meat (and the lunch choice of construction workers).

For some reason, hot dogs don’t scratch that itch for me so I had to go all the way to Hawaii.

In a fit of nostalgia, I even bought a SPAM cookbook. I think looking at the recipes will be enough, though.
posted by The Toad at 8:20 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


The taste of most pears and of overripe bananas reminds me of being a small, lonely child. I would either get these fruits at kindergarten or have them sent with me. I also have a distinct memory of canned Donald Duck brand orange juice, which was an affront to Donald Duck, oranges, and juice, packed with me as our pre-K class took a bus trip to a park to see an orchestra play.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:22 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


On my one and only trip overseas we went to a seafood place on Tybee Island, Georgia and I had clam chowder for the first time in my life. I love most forms of seafood with the exception of oysters and mussels and clams and other things in shells (apart from sea scallops) so I was dubious to begin with. Oh my frigging gawd. I'll never get over how good it was. I've tried it a few times since then and nothing has come even close. The ambience was incredible too, the table had a hole in the middle of it and you just chucked the shells and other assorted bits in there. The restaurant was over the water and the walls were open but with flyscreen material, to avoid malaria I presume.

This isn't a childhood memory ( I was 31 at the time) but as it seems impossible to have a memory from 20 years ago not be something that happened when I was young and dewy I'm going with it.
posted by h00py at 8:25 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


„What is your aesthetic?"

Found on sidewalk. (One of the things I love most about Berkeley is that this is a thing you can totally say and do around people and nobody will look at you weird.)
posted by The Toad at 8:31 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Original New York Seltzer, which was revived last year, tastes like being at the mall in the late 1980s.
posted by jedicus at 8:32 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


on, at the only hole-in-the-wall in Munich that was still selling food at 1AM to drunk college students.

Was that anywhere near Kellerstrasse?
posted by clavdivs at 8:35 PM on January 5


Clavdivs, not quite - I used to live right by the Universität and this was Engelsburg at Schellingstraße/Adalbertstraße. The establishment has since been replaced with a hip new café (the way of the world).
posted by The Toad at 8:43 PM on January 5


Hmm. Oh, Coney dogs used to smell like small pockets, say 500 yards of Flint, Mi.

I'd love a Flint style Coney dog right now.

Right now I've been craving my grandparents spaghetti sauce. It was so good, none of us could wait until it was officially done. My grandfather would cut up the fresh loaf of Italian bread from the bakery picked up early that same day and let us dip it while we waited.

It was the first recipe I asked to learn. For some reason I vividly remember how the look of the thyme in his hands as he measured it out. I wish I could go back to that day right now and have that dinner again.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:54 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


My Grandma always had a bunch of fresh basil in a glass on the dining table. Her house always smelled (despite whatever she was actually cooking) like a combination of fresh basil, garlic, pecorino, and, if I'm being honest, Grandpa's pee, because he had bad aim. Anyway I will sometimes get a hit of this combination (sans pee) and go whooshing straight back to the Jersey Shore circa 1980. I have a lot of super intense food memories but this is by far the the one that causes instantaneous time travel.
posted by HotToddy at 9:01 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

Honestly it's 1980s Laura Ashley and I have to fight it tooth and nail. I seriously imprinted on that shit. Despite my best efforts anyone looking at my house would immediately call my aesthetic English Country Cottage but at least there aren't any little sprigged calicos or cabbage flower chintzes. I call that a victory.
posted by HotToddy at 9:05 PM on January 5 [14 favorites]


Literally every experience I've had eating shellfish has strong, usually wonderful, memories attached. I've never lived in a house where anyone except me likes them, so they tend to be a food I either have at fancy celebrations, or when I am at the beach with friends.

So when I eat them now, I think back on the times eating oysters in fancy restaurants with good friends, or mussels battered out of paper bags on a pier, or as a kid eating raw pipis straight out of the shell on a friend's dad's boat after throwing a net overboard for a bit.
posted by lollusc at 9:33 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


I have kind of a reverse madeleine. The first time I heard the Saint-Saens Symphony no. 3, in my teens, I was the only person in the audience area of a 2000-seat auditorium, standing in the balcony and listening to the orchestra rehearsing on the stage, while eating a light-dark nugat bar (praline/gianduia, not white nougat). I still can't hear the opening passage of St.-S3 without remembering that taste. Not the only reason I love that symphony, but certainly part of it.

steamed, quartered Brussels sprouts, fries them in butter and nutmeg, and then scrambles egg into them. I have never forgotten how good they were. I am into the sprouts right now.
I don't think my husband expected that marrying me would lead him to become addicted to Brussels sprouts. I parboil them, halve them, and saute them in olive oil with salt and pepper, and he would happily eat them every day all winter (okay, so would I). Maybe I'll try them with nutmeg next time.
posted by huimangm at 9:43 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


During my recent stay in the hospital, I was in my hometown in North Alabama. Every goddamn meal was a madeleine moment: fried okra, field peas, stewed okra, turnip greens, yeast rolls and sweet tea. Remarkably crispy bacon and biscuits at breakfast. And exactly the same styrofoam ice cream cups that we used to have at my grade school.

One of the therapists there talked about how things from your childhood can be used to calm you down when overwhelmed. She was specifically suggesting looking up TV shows on YouTube, but it occurred to me that the whole sensory experience of the place was serving that role for me. The hospital buildings were of a similar vintage to my grade school. I was surrounded by the accents and habits (like public handholding group prayer) I had grown up around. And the food. It was magnificent.

It may not have been a part of the official therapeutic approach of the hospital, but it was definitely therapeutic for me.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:01 PM on January 5 [16 favorites]


What a lovely topic this is, Taz. I’ve been reliving food memories all day: my father and his great sauces (he uses every spoon in the kitchen), my late favourite Tita’s adobo when in Toronto (macerated onions in vinegar makes me drool like Pavlov’s dog), my best version of an Opera cake. Then I remembered Sara.

She was one of my first roommates when I went out on my own. I was a bartender at a champagne bar; she did corporate A/V. We ate cheap for months and saved up enough to travel for 3 weeks in Europe. Flew into Paris, drove to Nice, Cap Ferrat to Sanremo then turn around and drive west.

We arrive in Cannes on a late afternoon. In August. The traffic jam is profound. We never found a parking spot or open hotel room. What were we thinking?!? We’re tired and desperate so we drive into some gentle hills. Around a curve, we see fairy lights strung over a courtyard. Food! Farmhouse with a dozen tables. I know kitchen French so I do the ordering. Sublime bread, escargot, the cheeses, some beautiful pork dish and a litre jug of wine. Simple and perfect.

I’ve eaten at Michelin star restaurants. . . but I do not think I will ever eat so well again.
posted by lemon_icing at 12:29 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

Vintage early '50's cat castle ranch.
posted by LaBellaStella at 3:42 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


(Not my memory.) I learned to cook at my grandma's knee. She had me making homemade noodles at age 7. My mom can make noodles but she stopped since it is rather an intensive process. Skip forward to a few years ago. I hosted Thanksgiving for my whole family. My goal is that everyone gets their hearts desire, done in the way they remember it best. That said, I made homemade noodles in the Grandma style. Dishes were passed, and the eating began. Dad took a big bite, his face changed, and he put the fork down. Looked across the table at me, "Did you make the noodles?" I nodded. His eyes teared up, he continued eating, and damn, it was the best thing.

I made him fruitcake this year, also the way his mom taught me.

Some day I'll share the details from my youngest daughter's wedding, which featured an epic home cooked meal! My hands/fingers hurt too much to type today. I shelved books all day yesterday, to cover for a sick coworker. I kind of love doing that, although I am so much slower! All that up and down. And the arthritis in my fingers and feet remind me that yes, time changes everything...sigh.
posted by LaBellaStella at 3:59 AM on January 6 [18 favorites]


Lardy cake and a big sausage and egg sandwich in a stottie!
posted by quacks like a duck at 6:48 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Today I am dreaming of king cake.

I had my first king cake when I was 18. My dorm had some in for the beginning of the carnival season. A good friend asked me, “What happens if you choke on the baby Jesus?” To which another friend responded, “You die. But you probably go to heaven though.” I hope I remember that forever.

There are so many more moments linked to king cake for me in the nearly ten years I lived in New Orleans. The giant one I shared with the members of my parade krewe that I was lucky enough to join. The pink and red one I bought for my husband one Valentine’s Day. The extremely addictive one that the place I worked sold. (BONUS: the time I got to hear Nic Cage fuss about his king cake.) I miss the warmth, the yeastiness, the gentle sweetness, the richness of cream cheese, the crunchy sugar. I miss endless debates about whose was best, whether strawberry filling or that weird peanut butter banana dulce de leche one were sacrilege, which one we would get next, and whether we had to finish the last one on Mardi Gras or whether we could buy one last one that day to stretch the season a little longer.

It’s a bit symbolic, I suppose. But on this day when nearly the whole region is partaking of something I’m too far away to get, it makes me a little sad.
posted by Night_owl at 6:51 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


As someone who started international traveling at age 4, and now 48 years later have lived and worked in 4 continents, 10 world cities, and spent a significant amount of my developmental years in a very foodie culture with multicuisines, this is not a box I am willing to open, I just realized, as I was reading through the thread.

Today I learnt.
posted by infini at 10:04 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


I must add LaBellaStella's comment has me sitting here with trembling teardrops in the bottom rim of my eyes.

Excuse me a moment.
posted by infini at 10:16 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Mine is much humbler than many of the above: my parents got married young and the marriage did not last that long (although they get along well now, decades on). When they spilt up, I was about seven, and on my weekends with my dad, he always wanted to have something special in the way of activities, subject to his tightly constrained budget. Sometimes it was going to the drive-in to see a movie, but (I suspect) he was so strapped for cash that we could not even visit the snack bar, so he brought along root beer and Pepperettes (a brand of snack-calibre pepperoni sausages).

I now drink rooot beer maybe once or twice a year, haven’t been to a drive-in in almost a decade, and have not eaten red meat since the eighties, but the thought of any one of those three things immediately pulls me back to the other two.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:37 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


It's only smells and audio that fill this role in my life.

Slightly rancid machine oil with a hint of mold? I'm a five year old in my uncle's workshop built in his grandmother's Ozark-mountain chicken shack. I'm begging to turn the wheels, but I also don't really understand what's going on. He got married, had a kid, and spent a lot less time with me. Last month he died. But, I value our time together. And the smell of a basement or a lathe bring the experience home.

Half a second of the appropriate song, and I'm reliving my teenage experience listening to Joe frank for the first time. I'm sure my spouse is terribly annoyed at how often I associate 80's retro hipster bar music with radio programs I haven't heard in 20 years. "The first four seconds of this track make me feel bad for the fictional kid who died in a radio program in 1993" makes for a depressing date. But, I can't help it.

Food and drink are, at least for me, far less evocative.
posted by eotvos at 10:51 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


I'm in my 60s, grew up in the Midwest. I went to England, stayed at a casual hostel, and breakfast was beans or spaghetti hoops in sauce on toast, topped with a fried egg. It's awful and delicious and the sight and especially aroma of spaghetti-o's takes me back to being young and naive and slightly scared and adventurous.

My dad would occasionally have a piece of bread, the heel usually, with Worcestershire sauce on it. It's not bad, and I have it sometimes just for the connection; he's been gone a long time.

In contrast, my kid grew up with fresh sushi, pad Thai, etc., foods I could not possibly have encountered growing up.
posted by theora55 at 11:46 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Since I can't eat wheat any more, naturally most of my fondest food memories are of bread, cookies, pastry, cake and cereal. Or even, you know, not caring whether the tempura batter is wheat based. Or if the wings are safe. Or, y'know, if the french-fried potatoes have wheat in them (WHAT THE FUCK, IKEA). And while it's nice to imagine those flavours, it's not nice to actually experience them again.

There was however an astonishingly tasty sushi meal in Montreal that nothing's lived up to since.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:07 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I guess though if I wanted to set out some particular wheat-based memories...

Dipping graham crackers into store-bought lemon icing always reminds me of the time I drove from Washington DC to Homestead FL on US1, without sleeping or stopping except for gas. I would dip the crackers in the icing for food energy on that trip.

When I was in high school I'd get home in the afternoon and slather six slices of cheap white bread with butter and garlic powder and put them in the toaster oven. This was really stupid but very memorable.

My mom made these refrigerator / cookie press cookies with some kind of royal icing that I simply could never recreate myself nor (of course) these days even eat. But they were the best cookies. Though only marginally better than the oatmeal raisin cookies she also made. Mmm, cookies.

I also have a strong memory of eating Cheerios at the table when I was a pre-teen. We had the tupperware sugar bowl, the one shaped kind of like a tugboat with two lids that flipped up. I'd heap up a spoon with Cheerios, then pour sugar on it until it heaped, then eat it. I'd have the whole bowl of cereal that way. Probably consuming a quarter of the sugar bowl in the process. If I didn't have a huge pile of milky granulated sugar in the bottom of the cereal bowl at the end, I wasn't being sloppy enough.

I remember eating the chocolate icing tops off several donuts from Dunkin Donuts first, then smushing up the remains into cubes and eating those. Oh I also remember making Wonder bread cubes. Gnaw off the crust, then smush the rest up into cubes. Or see how flat you could roll it under a rolling pin. Maybe get three or four slices at once all rolled out flat until it didn't have any air in it. Kind of like cheese. Bread cheese.

Man this all sounds really dumb but I dunno, it was the 70s.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:20 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


If I didn't have a huge pile of milky granulated sugar in the bottom of the cereal bowl at the end, I wasn't being sloppy enough.

I remember doing that too - poor mom, she bought us the (less un-) healthy cereal and I callously subverted her sincere effort.

I also remember the hypoglycemic episodes I suffered if I subsequently missed lunch, and how relieved I was when I realized I could avoid those by not setting myself up every morning for a later blood-sugar crash.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:46 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Constant Comment tea for me too. It was my mom's favorite for years, until she moved on to Earl Grey. But it's still my favorite and an absolute necessity if I have a cold.

Also yesterday I saw a bald eagle AND a golden eagle, a dead hawk (roadkill), a live hawk eating a dead kitten (roadkill), more live (but not cat-eating) hawks than I could even begin to count, two falcons having an in-flight dispute, 13 live deer (ten--mostly does and a few frolicking fawns, but there was a huge buck as well--that I got to see up close on a friend's property, and three does cruising around near town), and 3 dead ones (fawns, all of them--likely from the herd I saw at my friend's--and all roadkill). The amount of animals that die at the wheels of motorists around here is incredibly distressing.

But eagles!
posted by elsietheeel at 1:56 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


I am really enjoying flicking between this particular MetaTalk (thanks, Taz) and the Every Tweet Is Like Sunday Front Page Post (thanks, chavenet).
posted by Wordshore at 2:11 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


As a kid I would travel many blocks to the one candy store that made lime rickeys. Basically club soda with lime syrup and a shot of cherry syrup. We felt so adult ordering it.
posted by Splunge at 2:19 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Earl Grey tea (just the smell!) will take me back to my University days; it's what my girlfriend drank and therefore, me as well. A favorite frozen treat from that era seems to be long gone, but back then any supermarket had some Ice Cream Cake Roll -- gimme a slice now, please!

A whiff of a screwdriver will immediately transport me back to the morning of my first ever hangover

Any apple wine does this for me (doesn't have to be Boone's Farm).
posted by Rash at 2:37 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Seventh grade, York, PA, 1987-88. Off to Bookland on Edgar Street to stock up on comic books, baseball cards, and video rentals. Then, next door to Bubba’s Breakaway, where I enjoyed my first tacos and first pierogies. This was before Taco Bell ever made its way to south central PA in the late 1980s, so Bubba’s was my introduction to the taco - crispy hard corn shells, ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheese, and “hot sauce” that pales in comparison to today’s sauces, yet was wonderfully piquant back in the day. I wouldn’t give that food the time of day in 2019, but 30+ years ago it was completely novel and extraordinarily different from the usual fare.
posted by cheapskatebay at 3:03 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I went to stay with my parents for a little while recently. It's a treat because my mom always bakes foods from my childhood that I loved. Tostada pizza, homemade granola, a bunch of other yummy things that I can go years without having. Takes me back to my childhood.

Then she throws it into a big blender, and we make a smoothie out of it to drink during the week.

One of the above sentences isn't true.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:56 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


On Bradley Creek in Wilmington, NC, my step-grandmother Barbara (who was from Alabama and had a wonderful drawl, making her name more like Bawhhh-Brahhh)(and whose aesthetic/overall vibe was very similar to Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard; she wore her hair in a chiffon 24/7 and told me she had to wear kitten heels as bedroom slippers because her achilles tendon was shortened from a lifetime of high heels), made the most amazing and un-reproducible shrimp cocktail dish. It wasn't a marinara-based cocktail. It was cold shrimp, and butter or olive oil, and pickled red onions, and something else. It was fatty and spicy and cold all together. In the kitchen, overlooking the creek, she would have a long cigarette going in the corner of her mouth while she chopped and blended the ingredients.

Barbara was a really kind, caring person. I often leave that fact out when I describe her life, which was full of legend and hyperbole but actually turned out to be true, 50% of the time. So she was a kind person who loved us, and she also knew how to tell a good story.
posted by witchen at 9:22 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


A whiff of a screwdriver will immediately transport me back to the morning of my first ever hangover

I have a very visceral reaction to that vodka and orange juice odor. It was one of the first drinks I got drunk off of when I tried alcohol for the very first time and I've regretted it ever since. I cannot stand that smell and that taste. It makes me want to gag. I think I've mostly just blocked it out of my brain and pretend like this drink just doesn't exist but every once awhile I'm reminded of it.
posted by Fizz at 5:19 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


This is a sad one, but egg salad was the last thing I cooked for my mother. I couldn't look at the stuff for like a year, and even now, I prefer deviled eggs.

On the other hand, I made cheeseballs at Christmas and that made me smile. :)
posted by joycehealy at 6:05 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


I'm British/live in the UK but for about a year when I was a kid I lived in the US and went to school there (Grade 1 even though I should have been in Kindergarten, since I had already started "proper school" (reception) in the UK). There is a particular smell that brings back strong and vivid memories of the school canteen there - I can't describe it except to say it's something to do with large-scale food preparation in canteens that I only rarely smell here in the UK. Maybe it's a combination of cleaning products and food prep or something - it's definitely not identifiable as a particular specific food being cooked; I've also never smelt it in a restaurant or at home - only ever where there is some sort of school or corporate canteen. It brings back memories of those partitioned trays with different foods in each section, including dessert, and being able to choose either a carton of milk or a carton of chocolate milk(!!! which is no choice at all, what 5yo wouldn't choose chocolate milk every time?). For comparison, 1980s primary school dinners in the UK were served on a regular plate, you had to eat some or all of it before going back up to get dessert (if you were caught dumping the whole meal untouched into the waste bucket the teacher wouldn't be pleased), and drinks were water or squash.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:22 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


(I guess that was more of a thing that reminds me of a food than a food that reminds me of a thing, but hey)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:22 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Lots of foods remind me of different circumstances in my life, but maybe Diet Coke comes closest to being my Proustian Madeleine. Throughout childhood and college I disliked the stuff but at the theater where I worked the summer after college somehow Diet Coke was the only thing ever available and I got hooked, first on the idea that I didn't like it, then actually grew to enjoy it. To this day the taste of Diet Coke still immediately recalls the smell and feel of that theater.

"What is your aesthetic?"

It's either that haunted tchotchke shop from Friday the 13th: The Series only with the haunting replaced by rapidly cycling phases of panic and ennui or else it's Bette Davis saying "What a dump!"
posted by octobersurprise at 6:51 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


the place was a huge old Victorian that would have been amazing if not so seriously dingy. It came with a raging alcoholic resident that had been there for decades and a nosy, strenuous resident landlady that liked to snoop in your room while you were away

I once lived in a place not unlike this in New Orleans where there were apartments instead but also a raging alcoholic who screamed down the halls and lay on the stairs in her nightie, a landlord who liked to snoop around in the middle of night listening at people's doors, and a gay ex-Navy dude who always had acid to share. Very Tennessee Williams, all of it.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Lipton onion soup mix. The thing my mother made most frequently for Sunday dinners was roast beef, and she always rubs the roast with a packet of Lipton onion soup mix before putting it in the oven. Over the years, I have tried all sorts of rubs and seasonings when making roast beef and have found some really good ones, but when I am just longing for the taste of childhood, I will do it her way.

But it's not just roast beef. It's also "California Dip", i.e. sour cream and Lipton onion soup mix. One of the biggest treats for me as a kid was when the holidays would roll around and we would get to have onion dip as part of the holiday snack buffets for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I stopped eating it for a few years when I developed lactose intolerance, but now that lactose-free sour cream is a thing, it is back on my list of favorite foods from childhood.
posted by briank at 7:47 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


octobersurprise, I lived in New Orleans for a long time, and while the exact particulars may vary slightly, that was pretty much New Orleans in a succinct nutshell ... at least for the youngish and moderately restless. :D
posted by taz (staff) at 8:18 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Lipton onion soup mix is also my mother's secret weapon. It goes into my mother's hamburgers and meatloaf, and probably some other things I wasn't aware of.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:35 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Nothing culinary takes me back to childhood more than a peanut butter sandwich on white bread and a can of Pepsi (normally I don't have a preference between Coke and Pepsi, but in this specific scenario it has to be a Pepsi).
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:24 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Ginger ale reminds me of being sick at home as a kid. My mother would only allow us ginger ale, soup and maybe some crackers. Now I never drink ginger ale unless I have a fever of over 101.

Orange soda reminds me of the time my brothers and I were riding in the way back of my mother's station wagon, in the row that faced the rear. I found an unopened can of orange soda that was as warm as the day was long. I drank it. Facing the rear in the hot sun, I begged my mother to open the rear window. The minute she did, on the BQE, I puked out the back window. My brothers were laughing so hard at the car behind us turning on his wipers. I have not had orange soda since (about 45 years).
posted by AugustWest at 11:21 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Our mother loved us all but she did not have her heart in cooking for us. She would throw some things in or on the oven/stove, crank it up, and wander away into the garden to read George Eliot until one of us smelled smoke and let out a yell. Burned pork chops. Burned chicken. Burned cookies. Burned cakes. We burned the kitchen out twice from deep fat going up in a blaze. Our father (who never, as I recall, burned dinner) was a volunteer fireman, so he had to stand there and make small talk while his pals knocked holes in the roof with axes and doused the place with hoses.

I am happy when my wife burns pancakes or cookies, and I regularly pretend to accidentally burn the toast.
posted by pracowity at 12:02 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


My father & mother-in-law used to bake a particular kind of cookie (Vanillekipferl) at Christmas time each year. I thought it was a neat little tradition, so I got the recipe from them, thinking that it would be something my wife and I would do together as well.

It's not an easy recipe - the dough is very dry and crumbly, and rolling it out into cookies is tedious and sometimes painstaking work. The cookies taste great, but getting there is a bit of work, especially for someone like me who isn't a baker. Anyways, flash forward to this year, where I realized as I was making a batch that my intent had always been that this was something we did together, and it has never been - this is something I do on my own, at a time of year when I already feel busy and stressed, and I find myself standing for hours alone in the kitchen, rolling out the cursed dough.

And I don't know what to do with that. Everyone expects them now, they've become a family tradition - for my kids, for my extended family (last year, my niece wasn't attending Christmas dinner with the full family so she could join her boyfriend's family - but she dropped by before dinner so that she could snag a few cookies), for the neighbours, and so forth.

So yeah. I don't know what to do about it, because it's become a tradition for everyone, but one that depends on me and I don't particularly enjoy the work it takes to get there. And the cookies do taste damn good.
posted by nubs at 12:03 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


"What is your aesthetic?"

You know that scene in every late-nineties / early 00s near future cyber-punkish noir movie where the hero walks into a club looking for somebody and the band is like KMFDM mixed with Poison plus the shirtless guitarist from the adversary band from School of Rock and they're on this stage with like pipes and cables and, I don't know, working pistons everywhere?

It's pretty much the opposite of that.
posted by signal at 12:32 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Aw, nubs! I bet that a huge part of the meaning is simply that it's you making them specially for your loved ones ... and that doesn't require only that one single recipe. Next year, choose something else unusual and delicious (and much easier), and tell folks you're changing up the tradition. Some nice ideas here. Anyone who's heartbroken gets invited to team up with you for We Have Fun Making Vanillekipferl Together day the following year. :)
posted by taz (staff) at 12:53 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Aw, nubs!

This is a very good new swear.
posted by ITheCosmos at 2:02 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


A weird sideways take on this:

My dad's been a small business owner nearly my whole life, starting super tiny and over time growing it into a much bigger thing. For years and years, the company could not afford an outside cleaning service, so my mom would go to the office after hours and she and my dad would take out trash, vacuum, etc. Of course they'd bring me and my 3 brothers along, because where else were they going to leave us, plus later we helped. And always, always, there were trash bins full of disposable coffee cups, right near the percolator (which dad still insists on using to this day).

So. The smell of stale coffee, and I'm wandering around half-dark offices with no particular purpose, or standing somewhere deep in the warehouse (first a small one, later a bigger one) looking up into the racks. Giant rolls of bubble wrap mix up in my mind with the weird smells of tape guns and idle forklifts.

Mostly it's just that stale coffee though.
posted by tocts at 3:58 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I think I ate in that Lake Taboe French place once, we had pheasant en croute, La Petit Pier. We were celebrating our marriage to come.
posted by Oyéah at 6:05 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


So yeah. I don't know what to do about it, because it's become a tradition for everyone, but one that depends on me and I don't particularly enjoy the work it takes to get there.

You make a formal announcement that you're bored of making those cookies alone, and if everyone wants cookies someone is going to have to show up in your kitchen with the ingredients, the requisite amount of time to make them, and a nice bottle of champagne. Then and only then will cookies be made. It will be a new tradition!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:34 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Growing up, travelling abroad was something other families do. Our parents made sure we never lacked for food, we received new clothes and shoes once or twice a year, and we spent summers at my grandparent’s house an hour’s drive from the city or, occassionally, embarked on a small ship to visit my other grandparents’ house. Hopping on a plane to visit another country, however, was not even in the realm of possibility. We didn’t have the money for that and I used to regard people who spent summers and Chrismas holidays abroad in a different light. Somehow, in my mind, I accepted that they were more special and just BETTER than us common folk.

Many, many, many years later, I was able to save up to go to Paris with three other friends. One rainy and icy day, I left my friends in the room we shared and trudged my way to Pierre Hermé’s shop to get something that I’d been reading about in all the food sites and blogs I used to peruse for hours. From then on, the fragrance and taste of an Ispahan macaron brings me back to sitting on a wet, cold fountain at Place de la Concorde while I, in tears, absorbed the fact that I was seeing these grand places, walking the same streets, and experiencing all the art and beauty and history that I only used to read about as a child. It was a dream I couldn’t even acknowledge I had, because it seemed so impossible and unachievable for me, until that very moment.

(This also started an obsession with anything that smells and tastes like lychees and/or roses. Remembering all this now makes me wonder if part of that love is because I associate them with wishes being fulfilled.)
posted by theappleonatree at 3:54 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


I’ve mentioned this before elsewhere, but if you’re ever in Wisconsin, search out Serendipity. It’s a fruit ale brewed by New Glaurus, a brewery that only sells inside Wisconsin. Their beers are very, very good, and their fruit beers (and I’m not a fruit beer drinker) are unearthly perfect. Serendipity itself is a blend of cherry, apple, and cranberry, supposedly from a year where the cherry crop was off, and they were unable to source enough of the grade of cherries they use for their regular cherry ale (which is also amazing). Because of the shortfall, they brewed with a mix of the three fruits, and it’s stunning.

The thing is, my first experience with this was in Japan, from a Japanese friend who goes on weeklong beer tours of America and brings back tons of not-available-in-Japan beers. Every once in a while, he’ll have tasty parties, and this one night, about five years ago, he had a tasting of Midwest beers. At that point, I’d been living in Asia for about 15 years, and due to the schedule of work, I hadn’t been home for Thanksgiving, which has always been especially painful, because that was our family time, and, well, the family has gotten smaller, and here I was, always too far away to try to keep things together.

My first smell of the beer made me cry. It’s smelled like fall in the Midwest. It smelled like maples trees doing their impression of fire as their leaves turned. It smelled like Thanksgiving. It smelled like home in a way I hadn’t experienced in fifteen years. It’s an ongoing thing with Mrs. Ghidorah, her telling people it’s the beer that made me cry. But the thing is, with family just across the border in Illinois, every time we do go home, we go to Wisconsin and get as much as we can find a way to bring back with us to Japan, where we share it with people we love and cherish, because it’s too good to keep to ourselves.

And in 2017, when I finally had the chance to go back and make Thanksgiving dinner with Mrs. Ghidorah, for what’s left of what used to be the 25 person gathering, we got a case of it, and we served it with dinner because that’s what I wanted to do since the first sip I ever had of this beer, share it with loved ones.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:31 AM on January 8 [14 favorites]


Late 2003. Barbacoa tacos from a truck after an 11-hour warehouse shift. The meat was tender and juicy, limes were freshly cut, if there was anything else in them (onions, etc) they did their job and stayed out of the way. I ate them in my car and it was heaven.

There was a lot going on in my head in those days. I don't miss a lot about that stretch of time. I was in my early twenties, had just graduated college, couldn't really find satisfying work in my field so manual labor paid the bills. There were some weird family issues going on. I felt like I was laying the foundation for how I would go about being an adult. So... those tacos and the aggressively citrus smell of industrial soap mark that time of transition.
posted by pianoblack at 10:57 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Oyeah: yes, it was Le Petit Pier. We loved that restaurant and the folks who worked there. We were heartbroken when the owner was killed in an automobile accident and they couldn't keep the restaurant.

We usually went as a group of 4 or more and got to know Jean, pretty well. The restaurant had an amazing wine cellar. The funny thing is that the wine cellar didn't have a lock - the food cooler did. Interestingly if a diner requested something that wasn't on the menu, Jean would come out and listen to what the person wanted and then propose something based on what he knew he had to offer. We were always served an extra course - sometimes something that the kitchen had been testing before adding it to the menu.

We used to spend about 4 hours having dinner, taking our time and enjoying the atmosphere and the camaraderie.
posted by Altomentis at 1:02 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The cat that I may be adopting at some point in the near future went to the vet this morning to get neutered, a checkup, FeLV and FIV tests, and vaccinations. This afternoon he's got two fewer testicles and a clean bill of health, so I'm pleased as punch. Now we wait until the extant testosterone in his body fades away and determine if that's diminished any predisposition for scent marking (and also until his pee in general stops being horrifically stinky). Then he'll get his first bath and an introduction to my boy (who also needs to go to the vet for a checkup and vaccines, but he finds pretty much anything other than being at home with only me to be COMPLETELY TRAUMATIC so I'm going to wait on that until the adoption is a go to subject him to a vet trip) and hopefully everything will go swimmingly. Note to self: order some Feliway refills. Also here is the cat tax for new boy. He's a handsome 13 pounds of pure muscle, purrs, and cattitude. And no belly trap. I'll be the luckiest girl in the world if I get to have two purring snuggle monsters who love a tummy rub.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:17 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


I am enjoying the various active food discussions across the site. As well as it being one of the seven core categories of the site, the community seems to more joyfully discuss food issues than many others.

Because of the cheese toastie one and the ramen and cheese one, I'm now wondering if ramen on toast is a thing (with or without cheese).
posted by Wordshore at 3:59 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Goodness, elsietheeel, that is an excellent panther.
posted by paduasoy at 4:57 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


The smell of sagebrush can sometimes make me feel so homesick I'm overcome with a terrible fierce longing.

Not food but this one really got me. Sagebrush and piñon sap and chamisa after a flash August thunderstorm.

Budweiser out of a can gives me a peculiar set of weird nostalgic feelings, but I haven't had it in several years.

My grandma's dill pickles and pfefferkuchen.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:58 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Someone is cutting onions in here.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 12:27 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I am mega late on this but I just remembered what my submission would be. As a little kid, like many little kids, I had an astronaut phase and one day the Washington Post Mini Page (RIP!) had a whole feature on astronauts. I cut it out and saved it. For some reason I determined the astronaut Mini Page is what I would read every time I had dumplings. I still remember the steam rising off a big bowl of flour drop dumplings with Easy Cheese--my preferred topping--and me sitting at the counter hunched over that Mini Page, scooping off tiny bites of dumpling at a time to make the dumplings and astronauts last forever.
posted by capricorn at 1:13 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Oh man, and the smell of chiles roasting by the roadside.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:02 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. I suspect that whoever organised the diary/calendar for the local parish church on the morning of Saturday January the 19th did so under the influence of communion wine and did not think this one through.
posted by Wordshore at 2:20 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


The bells! The bells!
posted by pracowity at 3:28 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


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