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Jan 3, 2007 03:59 AM

Obsolete Childhood Food Memories?

When I was little, I remeber going squid fishing at night with my uncles and cousins. We'd bring a little cutting board, some shredded daikon and some spicy korean sashimi sauce (chojang). They'd catch them two or three at a time and my cousin would quickly clean the squid, slice it up and we'd be eating it while it was still moving. So fresh, but I haven't had that experience in years. Maybe because the danger of raw seafood, but I really miss it.

Do you all have any childhood food memories that are tough to recreate nowadays?

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  1. When I was about 8 years old my Dad used to buy a Cow's head (Cabeza as they call it) in East LA, bring it home and cook it in the oven. It used to gross the heck out of my older brothers but for some reason nothing was better than sitting down at the kitchen table with 'ma pops' and having a go at the Cabeza. It was my first real male bonding experience. The cheek meat was especially tender and succulent. My Dad used to like to eat the eyeballs but I never mustered the courage to do that. Even though Cabeza isn't anything special I think the experience and the memory of eating with my Dad is what makes it so special.

    1. When I was about eight years old, we lived in an apartment on Judson in Evanston, Illinois for about 10 months while my Dad took special training after he completed his college degree.

      We had neighbors who would go to the fish market about once a month and bring home huge quantities of seafood and they'd fix it and sit on the big wooden back porch to eat it. They always invited us to join in.

      It was my first exposure to rock lobster, scallops, king crab legs, clams, squid, and oysters and there was always plenty of spiced boiled shrimp, too.

      My 82-year-old Mom and I were reminscing about this over the recent holiday. She adored the raw oysters and it was fun to watch the man shuck them by the bucketful. Brought back pleasant memories. :)

      Whenever I fix a mess o'seafood, I think of that early introduction to it and attribute those times for my passion for and appreciation of fresh seafood.

      1. In Savannah as a kid I had a neighbor whose father and grandfather would go down to the river and gather up oysters. It seemed like wheelbarrows ful. They had a big BBQ built in their back yard. I had a big piece of sheet iron over it. They'd get a roaring fire going and then would pile on the oysters and cover them with wet burlap bags and roast them until they popped open. We'd wolf them down with if IRC catsup and butter.

        1. We used to go canoeing, trout fishing and camping on the Spring River in Arkansas. Pan-fried trout right out of the river was some of the best fish I've ever had. And there's something about bacon cooked over a campfire for breakfast that is just sublime.

          1. When I was 3-4 years old, my grandfather (best man in the whole world) would take us fishing for bullheads. This was in Algona, Iowa and I don't remember what lake we would have gone to. They were dusted with flour and panfried. They would definitely not have tasted as good if caught and fried by anyone else though and I haven't had them since.

            Later in Ft. Myers, FL he made the best shrimp I've ever had. Absolutely fresh shrimp, of course, and deepfried in a very light batter, what I later learned was an extremely light tempura. Another Ft. Myers Beach memory -- watching the neighbor who had Stefanich's restaurant on San Carlos Island sitting outside shucking oysters. Mmmm.

            Good topic, soypower!

            9 Replies
            1. re: mickie44

              mickie44 - Your reminscence about your grandfather was lovely. I have fond memories of my Grandpa, too, a true fisherman and hunter. Don't think Grandma ever served any meat or fish that wasn't the product of Grandpa or the seven boys' work in the fields and streams.

              While I loved to eat venison, quail, pheasant, dove, squirrel, rabbit, and all sorts of fish at their home, I most loved the wonderful turtle Grandpa caught along the shores of the Wapsi River (Wapsipinnicon) in northeast Iowa.

              Oh, I'd give nearly anything to taste that again, just and Grandma fixed it -- lightly dredged in flour and pan-fried.

              1. re: KCJ

                KCJ - You mention quail which I have never eaten. I now live in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia where California Quail abound. After trying to grow a respectable veg garden the first year here and competing with the quail, I have decided I'm a bird lover more than a veg gardener and will buy better vegs anyway at the many farmer's markets in the area. Mario, my neighbour who has an admirable garden, says he shoots the quail with a BB gun. I was appalled. Now from a distance I can ask, what quail dishes do you remember from your childhood?

                1. re: mickie44

                  The quail my grandfather and uncles hunted in northeast Iowa was northern bobwhites.

                  Grandma wasn't a fancy cook. Actually, she probably would have scoffed at an inquiry about what "quail dishes" she prepared. To her, all meat except roasts, ground meat, turkey, and steaks was lightly dredged in all-purpose flour and pan-fried (usually with reserved bacon fat, sometimes with solid Crisco), seasoned only with salt and pepper. Never the least bit greasy, never a thick fried coat like you'd get from deep frying. I never recall her ever deep frying anything at all.

                  She prepared fish fillets and turtle the same way -- dredged in flour, pan-fried.

                  What are your quail like in BC? Are they chukars like I know from Idaho and Utah? Or are they some other variety of quail?

                  1. re: KCJ

                    The quail in BC are California Quail. There's an article on Wikipedia with a photo. I find them too appealing to consider them a food but will check with Mario for cooking methods if I get hungry. We also get pheasants visiting in our back yard. I remember my family hunting those in Iowa.

                2. re: KCJ

                  I don't think I've had turtle itself. But eggs? Yes.

                  On the beautiful sandy white beaches of Terengganu where we vacationed, the water was crystal clear, and guess who came to lay eggs ashore just before dawn.

                  I hope I wasn't eating the eggs of these majestic leatherback sea turtles, but eggs were commercially available in Malaysia. They were yummy, but I hope they are no longer legal.

                3. re: mickie44

                  LOL I wish my grandfather had your grandfather's recipe. Whenever I caught a bullhead, he made me throw it back. I could have been the most prolific fisherman if I'd been allowed to keep those babies!

                  1. re: luv2bake

                    My grandpa threw bullheads back, too. Channel cat is a different matter, but he preferred bass.

                  2. re: mickie44

                    Mickie, did you grow up in Algona area?

                    1. re: jwagnerdsm

                      jwagnerdsm, my grandparents lived there and I lived with them until I was 4 (the year 1948 would help for context). Grandpa was the local optometrist. Are you from Algona?