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Best Food Memory From Long Ago

You know that dish you had in your childhood that just stuck? What is it?

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  1. My Aunt Lyllis' ratatouille. I was about 11 and I was mesmerized by the look and smell of this food cooking in the frying pan. I'd never seen or smelled or tasted anything like it cooked in my home. I enjoy making it (it's one of my husbands favorite dishes) and the smell ALWAYS takes me back to that moment.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Axalady

      Souvlaki for the first time as a young teen at a local Greek pizza joint...

    2. My great aunt's ravioli. She used to let the dough hang over the backs of her kitchen chairs. They were sooooo good. I still love ravioli and go thru the trouble of making it from scratch 3 or 4 times a year but can't come close to how Aunt Lucia made it.

      1. Going to the cinema for the first time to see "Bambi" and delicately unwrapping the thin foil from my Alpine White bar for my first taste of white chocolate. I was 4 and barely remember the movie, but I can still remember breaking off chunks of candy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JungMann

          My grandmother's home made strawberry jam, on her home made bread. She let me have as much as I wanted (to my mother's horror). Jam on bread has never tasted the same.

        2. Picking wineberries at the boat club where I took sailing lessons. They grew wild on the hill, and you never had enough time to eat enough of those bright things in the sun. They're never sold, so I spent years thinking they were a fantasy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: thinks too much

            I remember the taste of raw new potatoes. In the fall of the year when the potatoes were dug it was the job of the children to gather them up and put them in the burlap bags for winter storage. We used to get the tiny ones -- not much more than stubs on the roots -- and eat them raw. I remember the cool, starchy flesh with the smell and taste of the rich earth in the fall evenings.
            Not something I'd seek out now, but it's sad that my children have never had that sort of total food experience (other than picking blueberries). The memory is so vivid -- in my mind and in my mouth!

          2. My Russian grandfather's big potato and onion pancake.. crisp on the surface, soft inside; topped with butter-sauted slices of the giant meadow mushrooms we had gathered, and a buttery, black (from the spoors), mushroomy dripping's sauce. This for breakfast. Heaven.

            8 Replies
            1. re: fromagina

              My mom's chicken fric-a-see - now that's a dish that has gone by the wayside, sadly....chunks of chicken with lima beans and little meatballs and pupic in this delicious gravy served over mashed potatoes

              now, how many of you know what pupic is???

              1. re: paulispumonti

                I do! But I recall that other family membes also called it a pipic.

                1. re: critter101

                  Yes it's so long ago it could be "pipic"- now, they never told me exactly what pipic was, and I was afraid to ask- it may be the Yiddish translation for rocky mountain oysters!!

                  1. re: paulispumonti

                    You say "pipic", I say "pupic", but it's all the same...Yiddish for bellybutton.

                2. re: paulispumonti

                  When my grandmother(#1) roasted a chicken, or turkey, I got not only the pipic, but the goughle...(I'm trying to transliterate here....)

                  MY other grandmother also made a gadempte, a kind of roasted savory meat, with potatoes and carrots. It was salty and a pinch sweet from the carrots. It was defintely NOT the thing with arpictos and other sweet stuff, can't remember the name....Broke her heart when I stopped eating meat.

                  Grandmother #1 also make a killer stuffed breast of veal. It was all about the stuffing...

                  But somehow, the sharpest food memory is from Chinese-American egg rolls from almost 50 years ago, and the crunchy flavor of the celery and bean sprouts...Really takes me back. I think they were on the board walk somewhere; maybe Coney Island?

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Galleygirl, you've stumped the chump. I know what pupic (pipic) is, but what's goughle?

                    1. re: chicgail

                      I don't actually know which is which! But it's either the heart, or the tushie, because I got both....I'll check with Mom, who'll know that much.

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        yum. My mom called the tush piece the touchas, but my fav was the heart and the kishkes (giblets). I'll bet the goughle was the heart.

                        When I was little, my mother also used to get and cook what I think were unlaid eggs from the poultry guy. Don't know what they're called or if you can even get them today, but I loved them.

              2. My dad's boned and stuffed whole fish -- stuffed w/a pork mixture? -- then fried. Oh my! Wish I could find something like that around these parts.

                1. mom's salmon croquettes and lumpy mashed potatoes that is still my favorite comfort food. when i was sick mom always made me egg noodles and pot cheese.

                  grandma beatty's chicken fricasee with dumplings and chicken necks that she saved especially for me. her mushrooms in brown sauce served over toast.

                  grandma bella's kasha varnishkes with elbow macaroni not bowties because elbows were cheaper. her stuffed cabbage. her mushroom barley soup. her potato blintzes. her micro salads [coleslaw with the tiniest slivers of cabbage & carrots; lettuce & tomato salads cut so tiny that it sort of made it's own dressing]

                  i really could go on and on ...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ericalloyd

                    Omigod, we're realted...My grandmother translated it into egg noodles and cottage cheese, but pt cheese=heaven! With a pinch of butter and sugar...
                    My mother made those same salmon croquettes...I made need to hace her make me some, it's been SOOOOO long...I was just talking about them on the salmon thread today.
                    It was her comfort meal, too. She wouls come home from school for lunch, and her mother would make her those, lumpy mashed potatoes, and peas....Sigh...

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      yup salmon croquettes and lumpy mashed potatoes from mom (from her mom) too. canned salmon, chopped onion, bread crumbs, egg, old bay (?) served w/ ketchup. mashed potatoes got mashed by hand with milk and more black pepper than i liked flecked in my food at the time (now i've grown to tolerate it).

                      also, chicken divan - broccoli, chicken, cream of chicken soup + mayo, sprinkled on top w/ bread crumbs, baked.

                      turkey meatloaf - lean ground turkey (that's just how we rolled), chopped onions, lipton's onion mushroom soup mix, mushrooms, ketchup, egg whites

                      sweet'n'sour cabbage w/ turkey meatballs (chemically altered - sweet'n'low and sugar twin, no rice in the meatballs, onions, sauerkraut, cabbage, ketchup...)

                      strawberry shortcake (choked down those strawberries b/c i thought i had to have the strawberries to have the mushy cake and didn't tell my mom they gave me a sore throat *and* i hated them) - little yellow round cake soaked w/ some milk, strawberries, reddi whip.

                  2. The lovely stew made by my French Canadian aunt, using a "gigot" (shank of a leg of veal, in this case.) I'd make it myself, if I could afford it!

                    1. MMm, gramma's sour cream cookies with choco chips. Nice and puffy. She always had a piece of white bread in the cookie car to keep them fresh.

                      Mom made this really kewl mushroom caps on bread, broiled with a dab of butter in each cap, then turned them over to broil more (butter and mushroom juice drizzled all over the bread/toast).

                      Loved when Mom brought new hamburg home from the store, we would ball up a little and sprinkle with salt, eat raw. Sick to think of that today but back then much better quality of beef.

                      Gramps "stuff" fresh from his garden - loved the fresh raspberrys on cereal in the morning.

                      1. My mother's peach chutney made from Elberta peach trees in our garden. What a chore it was to make, but how delicious it was to eat. We would have this wonderful stuff all winter with meats, as a topping for ice cream & cake, and with toast.

                        1. My grandmother's apple pie - tart apples, salty crust, perfect spicing. Best I ever had, and she's been dead 18 years.

                          Another great food memory with her is standing on a step stool at her sink, washing fresh picked strawberries from the garden next door, and being allowed to dip them right into the sugar bowl. My mom still wouldn't let me do this in her home today - it would make a mess and ruin the sugar in her sugarbowl, for heaven's sake!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                            Yep, my mom's apple pie did it for me, too. We had apple trees at our cottage in Quebec, and she would leave in May, and not come back until October. I was working in Toronto, and the only way I knew she was alive was every Sunday, my dad would come home with a couple of pies and an apple crisp or two.

                            I've never had pastry like my mom's. It was crisp enough to hold together, but light enough to cut with a fork, and flaky doesn't begin to describe it. She cared so much about it; I remember one day finding her crying at the kitchen sink because she thought her crust was too tough. (I thought it was great, and told her so, but she wouldn't be consoled.)

                            She died at 44, far too young. I never learned her technique, but the memory of those pies will live as long as I do!

                          2. i'll have to pull out a grandma story too:

                            every friday pre-ten years old, my parents used to ship myself and my two brothers to mamaw and papaw's every friday to stay the night. we thought they were doing us such a favor--we loved it at their house. they were like big kids, my papaw on his knees in the floor with us playing metroid on our nintendo, my mamaw always hanging nearby or cooking in the kitchen. this was all of course so my parents could have a break from three rambunctious little hellions, mind you.

                            but every saturday morning, my mamaw would be up before us making fried eggs, fried pork chops, home fries, toast with butter and jelly. . . those smells all wafting through the house, the crackle-pop-crackle-pop from the frying pan calling to me like a siren song. when we ate, i'd take my fried eggs and mash it up in a bowl, then dip my toast in it and ask for more, my mamaw pumping out fried eggs and toasting white bread with the precision of someone whose hands knew those movements from years of practice.

                            it is a food memory that cannot be matched for me.

                            1. Mom's chicken paprikas,I have her recipe and follow it to the letter,mine is good but somehow just not the same.

                              1. Maple taffy pulls...pouring maple syrup on fresh snow and rolling it up on a stick.
                                Picking strawberries before the sun got too hot and making jam with Mom. Shucking big piles of corn for family dinner. Picking wild raspberries then making pies with my Gran on the big farmhouse table(it seated 12 easily...when you're just tall enough to see over it, it looks enormous), and having my own little pie made from dough scraps.

                                1. My mom's pizza. Thin crust, three cheeses and pepperoni. She made her own dough, used gouda, mozzeralla and provolne, dry Italian herbs and pepperoni. Baked it in rectangle/cookie sheet pan. The best ever.

                                  1. Having a sit down family meal everyday of the week, no excuses you had to be there. You could invite friends, relatives it didn't matter. It was always a time to talk and catch up on the days events. I'm married now with two teenagers and we have a sit down dinner everyday of the week. It's great for trying new recipes every week too! I know I will miss this when kids have gone.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: maxandrick

                                      Great thread.

                                      Mine is pan-fried fish. I was probably eight or nine and a friend of the family took me fishing for crappie and bluegill in Northern Wisconsin.

                                      To that point, the only fish I had been served was appended with the word "stick".

                                      He had them filleted and in the pan within minutes of them coming out of the holding basket.

                                      It was probably just a simple salted/peppered flour dredge but wow were they good.

                                      I've loved seafood ever since.

                                      Thanks, Frank!

                                      1. re: Monch

                                        I agree, nothing like fresh fish that you caught. My favorite was catching in the morning, fileting and eating for breakfast - I'm a fish-in-the-morning girl!!! My favorite on the lake was white perch and catfish (or hornpout).

                                      2. re: maxandrick

                                        Glad there are other people who insist on a sit-down dinner almost every night. I have friends who thought I was crazy to go to that trouble, but it really made a difference for our family. I think everyone should do it.

                                      3. What a great thread, got me thinking of others. I have great memories of awesome cookouts in the neighborhood with friends and neighbors - best part of the cookout for me was tossed salad in a pita pocket with italian dressing. I still love this salad pocket but seems no one does it anymore.

                                        1. My best food memory is a wonderful rendition of classic coquilles St Jacques at this boat-shaped restaurant in Rockport MA sometime in the early to mid-70s when I was in my very early teens. Best ever. I can still cook St Jacques, and it's good, but it never lives up to my memory.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: k_d

                                            Yes, k_d, I was about the same age-same time when the parents began exposing me to the finer things in life...I recall my 1st Coquille St. Jacques being served in an oversized oyster shell at Carl Hoppel's Westbury Manor on Long Island- wonder if it's still there? It was delicious and not long therafter, escargot came into my life...so 70's!!!!

                                            1. re: paulispumonti

                                              So '70s, indeed. But it sure is fun recreating some of those foods. I am lucky that my parents were adventurous eaters, especially back then. And my mom a good cook. Good memories!

                                          2. When I was in first grade we moved across town. My folks didn't want to make me change schools in the middle of the year, even though the old school was a mile away and the new one was a block away. My grandparents lived right across the street from the old school, so every day at lunch time I would walk over to their house, and Grandma would make me lunch. I remember French toast, cheeseburgers, Campbell's chicken noodle soup, occasionally cinnamon toast made the old-fashioned way (I'm not sure they owned a toaster)--bread spread with butter, then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon (one at a time, not cinnamon sugar), and browned under the broiler until the sugar made this incredible crust on the bread. Since I was six, I had loose teeth a few times, and when I did Grandma would cut my cheeseburger up in bite-sized pieces. (I'm not spoiled at all, of course...)

                                            1. Hey AndyGanil,

                                              For me, it is all about the Grandmothers.

                                              Grandma Barbie:
                                              Venison/pork breakfast sausage

                                              Sunday supper waffles with homemade vanilla ice-cream and stawberry preserves.

                                              Coffee with a touch of chichory.

                                              Pies of every persuasion, the filling of each was blessed to be either atop, or enclosed in her magnificantly flaky crust.

                                              Mimi:
                                              Split pea soup with ham hocks. The aroma was infused into the walls of her kitchen. Served in wide soup bowls that as us grandkids neared the bottom, a magical visage of Shirley Temple was disclosed.

                                              Turbot a al meunier, with haricot vert, and beurre blanc. Enough said.

                                              Seasonal California fruits sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and caster sugar.

                                              Also, my Mom's chili, and mac and cheese are the best comfort foods I always return to.

                                              Yoroshiku,
                                              Andy

                                              1. Mine is not of a homemade food, not that I don't have any, this one just tops them. We didn't eat out very often when I was a kid, so when we did it was a special treat. We lived in Anchorage at the time. There was a small Italian place called "One Guy From Italy". We would all order a bowl of minestrone soup, mom would get a glass of Asti, and sometimes, if we were lucky, end up with spumoni for dessert. The first bite of minestrone was the best. Even today, I can't find anyplace that compares. Such a good memory!

                                                1. From 40+ years ago in my family, and I still have it several times a year:
                                                  TETRAZZINI !

                                                  The recipe that gives the ultimate respect for the poultry we have sacrificed.
                                                  My version is transliterated from the oldest recipes in Sunset and Gourmet that I've seen: http://life-eos.blogspot.com/2007/10/...

                                                  1. After a long hard winter in Winnipeg, Sunday church picnics in the summer were an incredible release. Here was a day dedicated to running around in the park with 40-50 other kids of all ages, yelling, screaming, jumping. Screeching like banshees can make you very hungry, and so lunch was a very important time of the day. Out came the hibachis and bulgogi. My Dad would light the coals, and wrap foil over the grill. He would use chopsticks to poke little holes in the foil. When everything was hot, he'd throw the soy-marinated beef on the grill, where it would sizzle and caramelize. You could smell the bulgogi from across the park, and see thin white columns of smoke from the cluster of hibachis. It took real effort not to sneak pieces of meat off the grill before they were fully cooked, but the rewards for patience were the smoky charred bits of meat and onion that crusted each succulent chunk of meat. Mum would pull out kimbab and kimchi and whatever special banchan she had made that day. Each family had their own side dishes, and each mother had a specialty. You would barter with the other kids for tastes of their sides: "I'll give you some cucumber kimchi if I can have some of your mung bean pancake." Mum would go to the women who were the best cooks, and gather all the best treats, then come over to my brother and I, and dump food onto out plates saying "Mrs. So-and-so made her jellyfish salad today." She could do this because she was considered a fine cook herself, and she would always have enough food to give out to others in exchange. It was considered a point of pride to give out more food than you received, although ostensibly this was an act of Christian charity. After everyone had eaten and cleaned up, it was back to throwing water balloons, collecting tadpoles, playing hide and seek or whatever important activity could be undertaken in the midst of food coma. And of course, there was the sprint to the ice cream truck.

                                                    As a child, I was somewhat embarrassed by my cultural heritage, as most first generation children of immigrants often are. But the bulgogi in the park never made me feel alienated or embarrassed. In fact, I often caught non-Koreans glancing down at their white bread sandwich, then looking wistfully at our grills as the smell of bulgogi wafted past their noses. It was the first time I had ever seen a white person being envious of my cultural background. It was a revelation: Look! I don't have to be ashamed of being Korean! Heady stuff for a 5 year old on a beautiful summer day.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: moh

                                                      moh..definetly the best answer so far.
                                                      thank you so much for sharing such a touching memory. it brought tears to my eyes.

                                                      1. re: rayrayray

                                                        Thank you Rayrayray! It was very fun for me to think about those picnics again. I've taken to cooking bulgogi in a frying pan, but perhaps I'll pull out an old hibachi and try it the old way again this summer. The smell is intoxicating.

                                                          1. re: AndyGanil

                                                            In the Northeast it is your basic, portable charcoal grill:

                                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/56832361...

                                                      2. re: moh

                                                        Moh, that was a beautiful remembrance of a very special time. I'm so glad I revisited this thread to find it. Indeed, my eyes are tearing up too.

                                                        1. re: moh

                                                          What a wonderful post! I'd have been one of those looking at your meal with envy - so much nicer than our hot dogs and beans! Lovely memories you shared - thank you!

                                                        2. peeling veg with my gran for sunday roast. a cheap tough roast beef cooked for a long time until tender with tonnes of gravy, lots of mash (potato or turnip), brussel sprouts, carrots and yorkie pudding cooked the the roast beef drippings. my job was peeling the potatoes, turnips and carrots. god, i miss those dinners.

                                                          1. Mine is the doughnuts at Angelo's supermarket in Falmouth, MA. When you bought them just-made, the warm doughnuts steamed up the clear window in their cardboard box. They were plain cake doughnuts, very crisp. Sometimes my sisters and my parents and I would meet my grandfather for breakfast in the coffee shop there and we would eat them on site - or have blueberry or toasted corn muffins instead.

                                                            1. I have several...

                                                              My maternal Grandmothers' traditional dinners in the middle of the day....real Southern Fried Chicken, collard greens, butter beans(although they were probably actually field peas), homemade collard kraut, boiled potatoes, white cornbread, Sweet Tea, and if we were lucky peach cobbler(although she made it with canned peaches it was so good)

                                                              My moms' Beef Stew with Bisquick dumplings, Chili over spaghetti, Osso buco, Spaghetti with Meatballs, and her potato kugel, kasha, matzoh ball soup, and cholent....yes although my mom was Baptist my dad was Jewish....so I grew up with both the southern food and Jewish foods

                                                              Then not something they made but when I was a teenager we used to go to a local restaurant every Thursday evening for their Crab feast....all you could eat Maryland crabs....I can still see my mom cracking the crab and pulling the best claw meat out and giving it to me to dip into vinegar and a little dry mustard....mmmm...I can taste it now.

                                                              1. I've gotta split this one between the BBQ at the Hickory Pit in Gravios Mills, MO (the original with Merle and Grady Nash) and my Grandmother's bread. When she baked, all the neighbor men seemed to just show up for no reason (drawn by the smell of the baking).
                                                                Bob

                                                                1. The summer of 1980--a little bar/pizzeria in Mackinaw City, Michigan. The crust was made out of the same dough I imagine they make Cheez It crackers out of. The toppings were normal, but that crust was incredible. I've tried to duplicate it and/or find recipes off the web--no luck. Boy, what a pizza.

                                                                  1. When I was a little girl my dad was stationed at an Air Force base in the English countryside. I have the most wonderful memories of picking blackberries from bushes next to the road and eating them with the cream skimmed off the top of our old-fashioned, glass milk bottles. It was so idyllic. Berries and cream will never taste like that again!
                                                                    Also, another food memory in England. I was in college when I went there to stay with a friend's family and the first night I was there we ordered Indian takeout. I had never tasted Indian food before, but after that I've searched everywhere (even in India!) for the creamiest, perfectly spiced Chicken Tikka Masala.

                                                                    1. Couple of memories: mom preparing and our eating oyako donburi on a cold, foggy winter day in Fresno. Outside would be grey nad leafless, inside warm and steamy. The donburi had bright yellow egg yolks, white rice and shredded chicken breasts, and thin, dark green chives, plus a few drops of soy sauce--all served in a blue and white china bowl.

                                                                      Our normal "peasant" food--summer time could be fresh, thin asparagus from the backyard patch harvested in the late, hot, dry afternoon as the sun just started to go down and after a day of running around as bare-footed savages, cooked (the asparagus, not the savages) in a bit of water, soy sauce, touch of oil, ginger, and sliced pork. From harvest to a sit-down, family dinner was quick and very good. Lots of hot gohan, maybe an ume. Folks finished with o-chazuke.

                                                                      Hoboes and bums were still a part of the lore back then. I made a fire pit and tripod to hang a pot, made hobo stew in the back yard. Can't say it was any good, but it was fun.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        Sam, my friends and I used to do almost the same thing, only our fire pit baked potatoes. Such fun!

                                                                      2. The samosas from the tea vendors in Allahabad, India, where I spent a year as a child...they were so spicy, you had to eat them bite by bite with a large glass of water - but they were by far the tastiest samosas I have ever had.

                                                                        1. Shelling peas at the kitchen table and then mom or great-grandma making a roux with some finely diced onion, using milk as the liquid, adding the peas and finishing with a ton of chopped dill from the garden (seeds brought over from the "old country") They made it very soupy. I could never figure out what that hoopla was about hating peas as I had never encountered the canned tinny tasting mushy definitely not green peas that my poor classmates were subjected to.

                                                                          1. When I was 5, went to the original Hollywood Drive-In What 's this? Neon lights! Car-hops! Trays propped on the door? Burger and fries magically appear? It all seemed fantastic.

                                                                            1. Mom was a good all around cook, and so was her mom. Dad's mom was a great baker...not so good at general cooking. Between the bunch there were lots of really good meals and good memories. Burgers, stew, pie, pancakes. But one memory seems to stand out... the first time I had strawberry shortcake. The cake was home made, more of an angel food than the silly things you buy in the store, the strawberries were probably picked that morning, and the whipped cream was so cool and thick and delicious. I think I had three servings.