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What's Your Earliest Conscious Food Memory?

mamachef Nov 13, 2010 08:05 PM

I'm talking about what you remember, vividly, as your first conscious pleasurable experience with food: not what your mom tells you about your childhood like/dislikes; not what you "remember" about your 1-year-old Birthday cake from seeing it over and over on 8mm family movies, but your own recollections. My two oldest food-related memories are of being maybe, 3 and having Gramma Mimi's homemade chicken soup with matzo balls and farfel (which is toasted bits of matzoh cracker.) That soup was so good; clear and golden and savory and warm; scented with love. The matzo ball was delicious; pillowy and flavorful all the way through. She'd always garnish it with snipped dill or parsley. The farfel had a crispy texture and a nutty, buttery taste, and it would slowly absorb the soup and soften. I remember feeling safe, warm, protected. I didn't know the word "nourished", but if I had I could've used it that day.
The next is maybe 6 months later. I remember being with my dad in the garden, and how it smelled. I didn't know until that day that you could actually smell different shades of green. I remember the sky, how blue it was, and how warm the sun felt, and how good it was to crouch and get my hands dirty. And daddy handed me a whole warm tomato, fresh-off-the-vine, that he'd given a quick rinse with the garden hose. He'd brought a salt and peppershaker out with us, and we had us a little tomato picnic, so deep and luscious and juicy and fruity....
What's yours?

  1. Ruth Lafler Nov 13, 2010 09:41 PM

    Hmmm ... my earliest food memory is a real memory but it's not pleasurable: I remember looking down with loathing at a soft-boiled egg mashed up in my stainless steel baby bowl. This may in fact be my first memory, because it was before I was verbal enough to tell my mother I hated eggs. Yeah, I was a weird kid who loved beets and hated eggs (and still do).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
      mamachef Nov 13, 2010 10:09 PM

      so you were a baby who didn't like the taste of sulfur but didn't mind the sweet, woody, slightly funky taste of beets? that doesn't sound strange to me at all!

    2. alkapal Nov 14, 2010 01:27 AM

      my first food memory is of a beverage!

      my grandparents would give me milky sweet coffee. i still picture their kitchen table, and them sitting there pouring the coffee into a lovely china cup. i can still see the little screen door out to the back porch, with the night blooming cereus in the garden. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fil...

      i don't really recall birthday cakes in particular, and i don't really have food memories until i was probably eight or nine. i know i loved broccoli spears! and carrot cake! and bbq ribs. and my dad's "fudge royale" ice cream from winn-dixie, the fudge streaks of which i'd tunnel out like some burrowing mole. that would really tick off my dad! LOLOLOL!

      mamachef. don't you love the smell of the tomato stem just-picked? that sure brings memories to me, and i'll even sniff them in the grocery (to remember -- and see how fresh is the tomato).

      edit: now i DO remember my first food memory -- and i was probably six. my aunt billie made me a special scrambled egg sandwich, crusts trimmed and cut into nine perfectly white soft-as-a-cloud squares. i felt so special eating those delicious mini-sandwiches, each filled with rich yellow egg curds and a decent amount of mayo and some salt. <sigh>. it was the beginning of my life-long love of mayo. or maybe it is due to genetics from my southern mom (it was her sister, billie, who said that her real name was "wilhelmina," but my mom said no, that was just an affectation. aunt billie always had a gift for the story, ya know. ;-).

      i may have to have a scrambled egg sandwich for breakfast. it is hard to beat a scrambled egg sandwich (no pun intended).

      2 Replies
      1. re: alkapal
        mamachef Nov 14, 2010 03:32 AM

        I think that's just lovely, alkapal. So funny, what food evokes for us. It was exactly the scent of the tomato stems that possessed me to write this question: when I was in the garden earlier, I tore out the rest of the vines and got a hit of that smell, like the very last of high Summer.
        I love the little shandwidges your Aunt would make. Oh, when someone does something special for us! It just takes a taste to bring back the glow.
        Cracked me up about Dad and the cake. My dad used to have a similar complaint about how I ate corn on the cob, and I'd sit there thinking, there's a RIGHT way to do this?

        1. re: mamachef
          alkapal Nov 14, 2010 03:48 AM

          no it was the ice cream that my dad loved! the "fudge royale" had these huge streaks of fudge throughout the vanilla ice cream. i'd come home from school and pull out the ice cream. my mother told me not to do the tunneling, but she never *really* scolded me about it. maybe she was secretly happy that i did it. perhaps that was her passive-aggression-by-proxy-through-food? LOL.

          here is publix's version. http://www.zeer.com/Food-Products/Pub...
          (maybe winn-dixie's was spelled "royal," but i think it did have the "e" -- making one certain to pronounce it ro-yal with the accent on the second syllable "yal"). fancy, huh?

          aunt billie made me those sandwiches for years, almost every time i'd see her. she also made the best sweet tea, and did NOT skimp on the sweet. she is probably playing yachtzee in heaven with my mom and aunt martha right now. she may even be cheating. (oops, i DID say that!)

      2. MrsJTW Nov 14, 2010 01:40 AM

        Getting into my chocolate birthday cake when I was two. =)

        1. s
          small h Nov 14, 2010 04:12 AM

          Hearing the ice cream truck's bell and calling for my mother to get me a toasted almond. She dawdled, and the truck moved on, and I did not get my popsicle. I'm still kind of pissed off about this.

          1 Reply
          1. re: small h
            mamachef Nov 14, 2010 04:37 AM

            small h, I totally feel your pain. She may have given you something that you should sue her for your therapy bills for. I live in a neighborhood where the truck doesn't come by much (it's always going fast on it's way to somewhere kids live..) but everytime I hear the weird, calliope-ish music, I tear a** downstairs, because all I need at any given moment is an ice cream pop (especially since I quit smoking.) and am inevitably left shaking my fist which is clutching two 1-dollar bills at the truck's vanishing rear lights. Sigh.

          2. ttoommyy Nov 14, 2010 04:15 AM

            From about 3 years old or so: my mother's fried meatballs right after coming out the rendered pork fat in which they were just "bathing" but before going into the long-cooked gravy. The crunchy/crusty outside, the moist garlicky, cheesy inside, the porky taste of that rendered fat. Oh...my...god! They were amazing. And for as long as I lived at home, she always set aside one or two freshly fried meatballs just for me before they took the "plunge." This is my earliest and by far fondest food memory. :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: ttoommyy
              mamachef Nov 14, 2010 04:39 AM

              Oh, my goooooooooooooooooodness, ttoommyy. You wouldn't, ah, happen to have that recipe around? or is it a family thing (which I would totally get.) Your description has me salivating at just after 5:30 a.m. Lucky you!! Did Mom call them meatballs, or polpetone?

              1. re: mamachef
                ttoommyy Nov 15, 2010 04:59 AM

                She called them meatballs and sorry mamachef, that recipe was all in the hands, heart and soul of my late mother. I have tried numerous times to replicate them, but to no avail. I can make a tasty meatball, but they NEVER taste like hers. Of course, the rendered pork fat had a lot to do with it when I as younger, but as we got older, she switched to a combination of olive and vegetable oils and they were still delicious. I honestly think I cannot cook like her because I know too much about cooking (which is not necessarily a good thing), whereas she did it from instinct.

                1. re: ttoommyy
                  NellyNel Nov 16, 2010 12:11 PM

                  Wow - that is such a good point ttoommyy!

                  And it's exactly the same about my grandma's meatballs. They were amazing. And no one else in the family (including my mother) could ever duplicate them - even following her strict guidance! Grandma just had the "touch" ...the "instinct" as you put it!

                  And we too, would always have a ball or two before they went into the gravy!!

            2. ZenSojourner Nov 14, 2010 11:22 PM

              I'm not sure. Either it's a cup of milk in the gnome mug, or it's Kraft Mac 'n Cheese at my great-grandmother's house. She would make KMnC for me no matter what else she cooked because she knew I loved it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ZenSojourner
                soonerhound Nov 16, 2010 04:21 PM

                I think mine was KMnC too- appr. 4 years old. I was visiting next-door neighbors and they made some- we were living in South America and they had brought it back in their suitcase from the States. I remember racing back home as fast as I could to tell my parents about this mind-blowing orange food. It also could have been some shrimp my dad grilled- my mother and I ate every batch he cooked on our little grill before he had a chance to get them to the table- but I don't know which came first :) Both are great memories. I still love KMnC and grilled shrimp.

              2. sunshine842 Nov 15, 2010 12:53 AM

                standing on a chair in my grandma's kitchen with a dishtowel tied around my waist, stirring the grape juice being boiled down for grape jelly. I was 3 or 4 to the best I can tell (yes, I had plenty of adult supervision - a tiny kitchen with my grandmother, her sisters, and a couple of her nieces. I don't think I had *room* to fall off the chair)

                I've been in the kitchen ever since -- I learned to cook at my grandma's side, and am forever feeding a table full of people to the sounds of laughter.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sunshine842
                  mamachef Nov 15, 2010 03:34 AM

                  Nice. I love, "forever feeding a table full of people to the sounds of laughter." Very lovely.

                2. Naguere Nov 15, 2010 05:05 AM

                  I would be 3 years old, sat underneath the kitchen window on an upturned bucket (I can recall the rim on the back of my legs)

                  In each hand i have a Malt biscuit, they had a cow stamped on to them, and still do.

                  With the sun in my face and from the sound of pots being washed, my mother called out 'Are you ok David '.

                  There seems to be a bit of dust in my eye just now.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Naguere
                    mamachef Nov 15, 2010 05:09 AM

                    Naguere (David, I assume)
                    There seems to be a speck in one of mine too.
                    What a beautiful memory.

                  2. d
                    Delphine Nov 15, 2010 05:14 AM

                    I can remember standing in a crib and someone (an Aunt?) handing me a piece of banana.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Delphine
                      SmartCookie Nov 15, 2010 08:25 AM

                      This isn't my first memory, but certainly my funniest:

                      One day I was cleaning out my cupboard and found an old box of couscous. Not wanting to make it as it would have a "off" flavor, I decided to put it out in the yard for the squirrels and birds. It was late in the day, so none of it got eaten. Unbeknownst to me, it had drizzled a bit during the night. I woke the next morning and looked in the back yard to see this ENORMOUS pile of couscous....see, you don't even need hot water!

                      BTW...yes, the animals did eat it all.

                      1. re: SmartCookie
                        mamachef Nov 15, 2010 08:36 AM

                        SmartCookie, next time I haven't any hot water and need a grain product, I'll know what to do with it!!

                        1. re: SmartCookie
                          ursy_ten Nov 16, 2010 08:36 PM

                          Now I'm imagining exploded squirrels! Lucky for them it did rain!

                      2. f
                        foreverhungry Nov 15, 2010 08:41 AM

                        Eating a steak at my grandmother's house in France. When My mom and grandmother asked me if I liked it, and I said yes, they then told me it was horsemeat. I looked at them and kept eating.

                        It's either that, or eating rabbit, again at grandma's in France. My grandmother raised the rabbits.

                        I think my first memories are of "non-traditional" foods precisely because they weren't the norm, and so kinda stick out. My mom's a great cook, but I really remember a lot of the...odder things I ate at my grandmother's.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foreverhungry
                          mamachef Nov 15, 2010 08:54 AM

                          I think you're a freakin' lucky bum is what I think. I got to taste horsemeat and loved it, and rabbit (especially terrine) is delicious. And I had rabbit in mustard once, with crumbs, and it was divine.

                          1. re: mamachef
                            foreverhungry Nov 15, 2010 09:40 AM

                            Yeah, I'll admit it, I've had a very lucky eating lifetime. Both mom and dad were European immigrants, and both had gone through WWII, and so both were used to eating...let's say a lot of non-traditional American foods. And my mom is a great cook. At home in New Jersey, I grew up with risotto, osso buco, some rabbit, and a few other interesting things. My dad loved tripe, which I really never liked. And kidney. In France, my grandmother would regularly make rabbit, but we'd occasionally have horse, and blood sausage (which they also fed to me surreptitiously when I was in my single digits), and then lots of game that my cousin and uncles hunted - boar, venison, chamois. And lots of fresh trout.

                            Maybe that's why, to this day, I'll eat anything put in front of me, at least once.

                        2. y
                          yanks26dmb Nov 15, 2010 09:28 AM

                          earliest food memory is from when I was about 3 or 4. I remember eating a bowl of buttered pastina my mom had made for me. I loved that pastina...still do.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: yanks26dmb
                            ttoommyy Nov 15, 2010 10:51 AM

                            That's an early memory for me too, yanks26dmb. My mother always made it with milk and butter, and boy was it good. And still comforting to this day.

                            1. re: ttoommyy
                              mamachef Nov 15, 2010 12:12 PM

                              Funny - when I first put my first kiddoo on solids, I used minced chicken, diced carrots and egg pastina in broth. The dude scarfed it so hard and fast that I made another batch that we both wolfed. To this day, it's one of both our tried and true go to comfort foods.

                          2. b
                            Beach Chick Nov 15, 2010 09:32 AM

                            My pink Barbie cake when I was 2 years old..

                            1. Perilagu Khan Nov 15, 2010 01:21 PM

                              This is very difficult to determine, but there are a couple of candidates from when I was about five.

                              First, I remember eating three Beltbusters from Dairy Queen. Daddy was so proud.

                              Second, my mom served a dish whose primary component escapes me, but I do recall there being a tasty marinara-type sauce remaining in the baking dish, and that this sauce had slices of mushrooms in it. My dad and I each had a fork and "competed" with one another to ferret out the tasty mushroom bits.

                              Prosaic, but there you go.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                mamachef Nov 15, 2010 01:32 PM

                                Maybe prosaic, but I do get such a nice warm feeling, and visual of you and your dad having your little contest. Food is so context-loaded, isn't it?
                                As far as DQ's concerned, boyoboy that brought up a memory too. I used to spend Summers with my Grandparents in MN, and frequently after dinner he'd ask me if I wanted to go with him to buy a "See-gar" which of course I always did, because a cigar for him translated into a Peanut Buster Parfait. Joy in a cello cup, right? By the time I was weight-conscious, though, I was calling them Peanut Bastard Parfaits.

                                1. re: mamachef
                                  Perilagu Khan Nov 16, 2010 11:18 AM

                                  I well remember those Bastards! And I think DQ also had something called a Dilly Bar. Maybe they still do. Been a long time since I set toe in a DQ. Perhaps I'll pop in for a Country Basket, just for olde tyme's sake.

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                    alanbarnes Nov 16, 2010 11:37 AM

                                    Funny you should mention it - I recently went into a DQ for the first time in decades. It was a blast from the past - PBPs, Dilly Bars, chocolate-dipped soft-serve cones - they're all still available. And the burgers are still cooked to order.

                                    We went to this place because we were in a tiny town with no other options. But I'm thinking we may start occasionally patronizing the DQ around the corner. Not exactly health food, but a nice kick of nostalgia.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes
                                      ttoommyy Nov 16, 2010 12:33 PM

                                      I used to love DQ, but haven't been in one in a while. I do remember being embarrassed going to one with my parents for a while because I was reading the "brazier" burger on the menu as a "brassiere" burger! lol

                                      1. re: alanbarnes
                                        Perilagu Khan Nov 16, 2010 12:37 PM

                                        I used to have those Dip Cones regularly. Hence, another very early food memory: my mom would pick me up from kindergarten, and not infrequently, ask if I wanted to stop for an ice cream cone. (My earliest lesson in rhetorical questions!) We would then repair either to DQ for a Dip Cone or a neon-bedizened hamburger stand called the Dairy Mart for some other soft-serve treat. The DQ is now a donut shop and Dairy Mart is now called Samburger's. Fond memories all the same.

                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                          mamachef Nov 16, 2010 07:38 PM

                                          Is Samburgers the one that charcoal-grills their burgers and then uses barbeque sauce on the burger and paints the bun w/ "secret" sauce: a mayo/ketchup blend? We had an Uncle Samburgers for the longest time. I wonder if they're related. Oh I miss those things, spoken as one word, "can we go get unsambuger?

                                          1. re: mamachef
                                            Perilagu Khan Nov 17, 2010 06:41 AM

                                            Hmmm. I kinda doubt they're the same, mama. Samburgers is, I believe, just a little local chain (probably not more than two or three restos) out here in Lubbock. Don't think they've penetrated the Bay Area market.

                                            That Samburger you describe sounds delish, though.

                                      2. re: Perilagu Khan
                                        Kholvaitar Jan 20, 2013 06:49 AM

                                        Here's a Dilly Bar !!

                                        (Kids probably prefer this to a Pickle on a Stick)...

                                        1. re: Kholvaitar
                                          Perilagu Khan Jan 20, 2013 09:21 AM

                                          I just got hungry. :)

                                      3. re: mamachef
                                        mariacarmen Nov 16, 2010 09:46 PM

                                        Oh,Mamachef, you brought up another one! my cousin's dad is American (big tall Swede-extract, rest of family is short and Bolivian) and when i was seven, we went to visit his family in Minnesota one summer, and there was fish we caught on the lake (REALLY out of my zone - we lived in West Hollywood in a one-bedroom apartment) and fresh corn, but the thing I most remember was Grandma Mabel's breakfasts: oatmeal and toasted raisin bread with plenty of butter and plum jam. I felt like i was summering in a Norman Rockwell painting.

                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                          alkapal Nov 16, 2010 09:51 PM

                                          raisin bread toast with butter and cinnamon sugar is still delicious.

                                    2. p
                                      pitterpatter Nov 15, 2010 02:47 PM

                                      I don't know how old I was but I was still in my high chair. Roquefort cheese. I loved it. This is still my favorite cheese. The second food memory is anchovies wrapped around capers. My mother would tossed them in salads. She always put a couple extra in mine because I loved them so much. I've always had a "salt tooth."

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pitterpatter
                                        mamachef Nov 15, 2010 02:52 PM

                                        I'm a sodium and umami freak myself, pitterpatter. But I've got to say, G-d bless your sainted mother for letting you experiment with good foods early on. It's probably part of why you're a CH now!!
                                        : )

                                      2. scarmoza Nov 15, 2010 03:50 PM

                                        I still remember the breakfast my grandma made for us the day my sister was born (and my parents were at the hospital). Fried eggs, linguiça, and toast. I remember sitting in my high chair and my grandmother frying up our breakfast while trying to make my sister and me laugh (I'm sure there had been a lot of crying when we didn't find our parents at home that morning.)

                                        1. alanbarnes Nov 15, 2010 05:28 PM

                                          Milk toast. Buttered toasted white bread with hot milk and sugar. It stood out from the everyday because my mom only made it when one of us was sick.

                                          My granddad fed me the better part of a pint of ice cream when I was only a few months old. I don't have any recollection of it, but it sure 'splains a lot...

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                            mamachef Nov 15, 2010 05:51 PM

                                            Thanks, gramps, right? I developed a lifelong fascination with and love for bourbon-soaked cancer cherries, aka maraschinos, courtesy of grampa Babe, who used to spear them out of his Old-fashioneds for me.
                                            Hey Alan, did you ever hear of milk toast as a savory? I have a friend whose mother made it for her, only instead of milk and sugar, she'd serve it up with butter, salt/pepper and milk. It sounds sort of comforting in a pasty way!

                                            1. re: mamachef
                                              ZenSojourner Nov 15, 2010 07:06 PM

                                              That's how we make our milk toast! I never heard of putting sugar in it (and I'm just as glad).

                                              I've run across very few people who've ever heard of it, let alone eat it regularly.

                                              Which reminds me, I need a bread machine squishy white bread recipe for milk toast bread. I hate squishy white bread, except as toast for milk toast.

                                              1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                mamachef Nov 15, 2010 08:14 PM

                                                I'm pretty sure I've got one - not too squishy; kinda like the Pepperidge Farm Sandwich Loaf used to be back then before it turned into what it is now. At any rate it's pretty good and makes a dynamite sandwich. Do you want me to try and find it?

                                                1. re: mamachef
                                                  ZenSojourner Nov 15, 2010 08:43 PM

                                                  Surely, if you've the time! Thanks!

                                            2. re: alanbarnes
                                              Passadumkeg Nov 16, 2010 04:28 AM

                                              Zweibeck, good for teething and mammalary substitute.

                                            3. shanagain Nov 15, 2010 10:11 PM

                                              From my mother's point of view this is an absolutely delightfully, hysterical story. From my point of view, it's a bit sad and cruel.

                                              Once upon a time my father was the national president of the Jaycees, a men's organization. This meant we rec'd food gifts from all over the country.

                                              Louisiana's kindly gentlemen sent bushels of fresh oysters to the "Little White House." I'm not entirely sure anyone knew exactly what to do with them except shuck them and fry them. And give one on the half-shell to a tow-headed little four year old.

                                              Who chewed. And chewed. And chewed. Until, as oysters apparently do, it grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger. I had to ask if I could spit it out. Oh, the still waters of Southern manners run deep.

                                              That would have been right around the time I "cooked" my first meal. "Scrambled eggs.." shall we say "cooked" on a gas stove... in a plastic margarine tub.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: shanagain
                                                mamachef Nov 15, 2010 10:24 PM

                                                shanagain, i did something very similar the first time i attempted bread at the age of 6 with minimal supervision. Everything went well until the first rise: I oiled the bowl, turned the bread, covered it neatly and put it into the oven in which only pilot light was on.
                                                It doesn't matter. A pilot light will melt a plastic bowl; I don't care how sturdy a plastic it is!!

                                                1. re: mamachef
                                                  shanagain Nov 15, 2010 10:27 PM

                                                  And yet, here we are today!

                                                  1. re: shanagain
                                                    mamachef Nov 15, 2010 10:30 PM

                                                    Clearly both still cooking! Yaaay us!!

                                              2. Will Owen Nov 16, 2010 10:41 AM

                                                The Sunday morning I woke up wet (I was two), so I just took my soggy jammies off. Mom and Dad were still asleep, so I went outside. We lived in a converted garage on an alley. I walked up the alley to see if my friend - I'll call her Jane - was up, and she was, playing in her back yard. We played with her toys for a while, then I said something about being hungry, and we went in the house, where her dad was sitting and reading the paper. Jane said, "Daddy, Billy's here." Dad looked over his paper at my little pink self and said, "Um, so I see!"

                                                Next thing I remember is being given a brown Safe-T-Pop, a color I'd never seen before, and being picked up and carried home. I don't know if there was any fussing going on, because I was so completely absorbed in exploring my first food paradox: the flavor was root beer, which I'd never tasted before, and try as I might I could not like it. But it was candy! How could I not like candy? So that root beer pop became not only my earliest specific taste memory, but my first philosophical challenge as well.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Will Owen
                                                  ttoommyy Nov 16, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                  You remember all of that and you were two when it happened? I can barely remember what I ate for lunch...and that was an hour ago! lol

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy
                                                    onceadaylily Nov 16, 2010 03:04 PM

                                                    I've taken a few courses that dealt with early childhood memories a bit, and the theory is that those memories are what we've clung to as a matter of survival, as a guide to getting along in 'our' world.

                                                    I tried to mail a card today, but have no idea where my stamps are. I guess I feel safe enough to forget where I put the stamps?

                                                    Will's second memory reminded me of the first time I had licorice.

                                                  2. re: Will Owen
                                                    FoodFuser Nov 18, 2010 11:56 AM

                                                    My own first deep challenge
                                                    of things philosophical
                                                    was not of root beer
                                                    but rather strawberry.

                                                    Cogito ergo Consume.

                                                  3. tatamagouche Nov 16, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                    My first black cow. I don't recall how old I was. I just recall how thrilled I was by the foam, the frostiness, the fact I could use a straw and a spoon...

                                                    1. NellyNel Nov 16, 2010 12:34 PM

                                                      I don't have an exact "First" food memory, but I do have many early food memories...

                                                      and a few of the previous posts reminded me of a few: Welch's grape juice in small bottles they just tasted so much better in those bottles!
                                                      Buttered pastina - I remember having fun with the way I would scoop out shapes in the bowl with my spoon.
                                                      Helping make Sunday gravy, by crushing the tomatoes in a bowl with my hands. And stealing a few meatballs before they went into the sauce!

                                                      Our Thanksgiving meals were incredible, and an absolute favorite childhood memory of mine.
                                                      I remember how excited grandpa was to run the kitchen that day! (He never cooked otherwise) but on Thanksgiving - he was the master. He wors a very silly apron but took his post seriously, Sending out trays of rice balls, potato croquettes, stuffed mushrooms, roasted peppers, and fried bananas that had been coated in crackermeal. All this came before the lasgana with meatballs, and then the turkey course...ah what a feast it was..

                                                      Adnd this coincides with my first alcohol memory too. Sipping Asti Spumante in those old fahioned champagne glasses on Thanksgiving and Christmas - What a treat!

                                                      1. d
                                                        dingey Nov 16, 2010 01:00 PM

                                                        DRY OATMEAL AND SUGAR. When I was teeny tiny, my brother and I would get up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays, because it was the one day my parents had to "sleep in" (probably until about 8 am) and we were allowed to watch cartoons for a good chunk of the morning. The anticipation was too much to bear, so we'd get up while the test pattern was still on. First we'd wander around the empty downstairs while my brother worked on my gullible nerves by opening and closing cupboard and informing me vaguely: "Hmmm. Something fishy's going on here. Something VERRRRRRRRY FISHY! Boy, THAT'S strange!" while I dawdled behind him begging to know what was going on and getting increasingly keyed up until he'd distract me by "fixing breakfast." This involved pouring bowls of dry oatmeal and mixing in giant spoonfulls of sugar. Then we'd go watch the test pattern until "Ag USA" (a show in which local 4-H kids paraded their livestock around a Kalamazoo soundstage), which was followed by "UNDERDOG." Thank you, kind sir.

                                                        Another early food-based memory is my mom scooping a bit of marrow out of a big steak bone to share her "chef's treat" with me, and what a bang she got out of me trying to steal more from her. Bark from the same tree.

                                                        1. wolfe Nov 16, 2010 01:04 PM

                                                          I have to learn to read more slowly. I was fully prepared to relate my first couscous memory. I see that SmartCookie has already done something like that.

                                                          1. Veggo Nov 16, 2010 01:27 PM

                                                            I'm checking my first diary, let's see...."Day 1: still tired from the move. This liquid diet is gonna get old."

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              Passadumkeg Nov 16, 2010 02:36 PM

                                                              Ah, funny you should say that! My first memory was going to a party w/ dad and coming home w/ mom!

                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                Veggo Nov 17, 2010 05:14 AM

                                                                Hay que ser algo - capitan o marinero?
                                                                Y baile la bamba.
                                                                EDIT: nevermind, the spanish sidebar got zapped.

                                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                                  mariacarmen Nov 17, 2010 12:56 PM

                                                                  why? that is weird, i didn't know they would do that.

                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                    alkapal Nov 17, 2010 01:08 PM

                                                                    because it was fun, that's why!

                                                                    it wasn't about "deliciousness" -- as if all the other many threads about stupid things are about deliciousness.

                                                                    ps, read this while you can!

                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                      Veggo Nov 17, 2010 02:33 PM

                                                                      We were getting a little silly but having fun. Also, when Sam and I used to banter in spanish, we were often reminded that this is an english-speaking site.

                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                        alkapal Nov 17, 2010 03:26 PM

                                                                        i sí.

                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                          mariacarmen Nov 17, 2010 08:19 PM


                                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                                            mamachef Nov 20, 2010 11:46 AM

                                                                            speak English, Alkapal. Or the dogs from hell will be all over you and put you in the "bad doggy" place. ; )

                                                                            1. re: mamachef
                                                                              mariacarmen Nov 20, 2010 02:07 PM

                                                                              aaaaaand she's back!

                                                                2. DonShirer Nov 16, 2010 02:22 PM

                                                                  When I was three, the family had an electric marshmallow toaster which looked something like a 3-inch metal cube with little forklike prongs used to rotate the MMs over the heating element. Evidently I dipped one a little too low and it caught fire, upon which I immediately tossed the flaming treat onto the stove. I was teased for years for not putting it under the water tap in the sink (making the memory unerasable), but I thought it was perfectly obvious, fires belonged on the cooktop. Subsequent food memories were more pleasant, except for the castor oil prescribed by grandma for any imagined illness.

                                                                  1. onceadaylily Nov 16, 2010 03:23 PM

                                                                    I remember my father helping me up a ladder so that we could pick cherries from the tree in our backyard, after my older brother had finished his turn up there. My bucket was a plastic sand pail, scarlet red, with a white scalloped handle. I remember my mom at the bottom of the ladder, nervous, but laughing. I remember trying to eat the cherries, but being told that I had to wait, and eventually having to just take turns at handing our buckets up to my dad. I remember my mom rinsing the buckets *separately*, because my brother and I wanted to eat our own cherries. They were still wet when we ate them, and my parents pretended to ask us if they could have some, as if we could say no. I remember being happy to share with my parents (just not with my brother).

                                                                    I also remember being at that same house (we moved a few months before my fourth birthday), and being parked on the concrete stoop outside of the side door. I had an Oreo in one hand, and a cup of Faygo red pop in the other. I remember that it was summer, and I was wearing a dress, and wanting to go inside, but was being banished to 'play outside'. The cookie and the pop make me wonder just what was going on in there that day, for me to have earned that bribe. What was she up to in there? I'll never know.

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: onceadaylily
                                                                      mariacarmen Nov 16, 2010 09:58 PM

                                                                      you bring up another Little City Girl Goes to the Country - family friends in Pomona would have us out to their farm and i'd eat blackberries that we picked until we were purple all over, and walnuts fallen from the giant tree until i was sick.

                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                        Passadumkeg Nov 16, 2010 10:04 PM

                                                                        Picking huckleberries in the eastern Pennsylvania coal region mountains.
                                                                        Drinking rich golden Gurensy milk there.

                                                                      2. re: onceadaylily
                                                                        dingey Nov 17, 2010 05:14 AM

                                                                        FAYGO! Now there's a Proustian midwestern food memory, onceadaylily! Faygo, Town Club, the rare treat of fruity pop in a sweating glass bottle on a hot summer day!

                                                                        What WAS she up to in there?

                                                                        1. re: dingey
                                                                          sunshine842 Nov 17, 2010 07:14 AM

                                                                          Faygo red pop made the BEST ice cream floats.

                                                                          1. re: dingey
                                                                            onceadaylily Nov 17, 2010 08:00 AM

                                                                            Rock and Rye was actually my favorite.

                                                                            I also remember Towne Club 'pop', glass bottles that came in those wooden cartons. Family reunions were not complete without big metal wash bins, filled with iced Towne and Club.

                                                                            And it was the seventies, so she could have been doing any number of things. But she was probably just reading.

                                                                            ETA: Corrected the name of the soda that I persisted in typing as Town and Country, depsite the fact that dinghey got it right.

                                                                            1. re: onceadaylily
                                                                              sunshine842 Nov 17, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                              Heh. I hadn't thought about Rock and Rye in YEARS. That was good, too.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                Veggo Nov 17, 2010 08:10 AM

                                                                                During my reprobate college years in Philly I could get a shot of Jacquins Rock and Rye with a beer back for a buck. Including tip.

                                                                        2. c
                                                                          catspercapita Nov 16, 2010 03:57 PM

                                                                          I remember my grandmother rolling out pasta on her board and me "stealing" the little bits she put on the side. It was a fun yummy little game we had with me probably eating far too much uncooked dough. Yum yum..........

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: catspercapita
                                                                            tatamagouche Nov 16, 2010 04:28 PM

                                                                            This is making me long for the memories I *don't* have—the stories of my Russian-Jewish immigrant grandmother with her schmaltz and her pickled herring...

                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                              Passadumkeg Nov 16, 2010 05:16 PM

                                                                              I remember my babyshka making pickled herring too.

                                                                          2. amymsmom Nov 16, 2010 08:55 PM

                                                                            My first memory was probably before I was 5 - was in the kitchen in the apartment my family lived in till that age. My younger sister & I would climb on the counters and taste stuff - coffee powder, sacharine tablets, anything we could reach. I remember doing that after we moved to a house, but I changed it up a little. We dared each other to taste bad stuff too - baking soda, etc.

                                                                            Shortly after moving, I remember my grandma making mychalim (yiddish for delicous treats) - kreplach (meat dumplings cooked in chicken broth), fees (chicken feet in the same pot), and a sour cream coffee cake with layers of chocolate.

                                                                            That year my grandma introduced us to coffee, the Russian way. We each got a small glass of milk, with a few spoons full of hot instant coffee (Maxwell House or Sanka). We were also given a lump of sugar to drink it thru. Grandma sipped her glezel cafe (glass of coffee) thru the sugar cube held by the few teeth she had left. We just chewed the sugar or plopped it into the glass to sweeten the coffee milk.

                                                                            My mom made a basic baked chicken quarters over chopped potatoes, celery, onions and carrots. My sister and I would fight over the fat that crystalized on the pan around the vegetables - delicious. I now make a similar dish, and scoop out the fat - but nobody else in my family is interested - their loss.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: amymsmom
                                                                              mamachef Nov 20, 2010 11:47 AM

                                                                              You're making me miss Zaydeh Esther, amymsmom.

                                                                            2. alliegator Nov 17, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                                              I have generic memories of chicken soup and ham sandwiches, but shoofly pie made me fall in love with food. I was maybe 4 or 5. My grandfather worked for the dept. of transprtation in Pennsylvania and would always bring home goodies from his travels as he was gone a lot of the time. And shoofly pie was the thing! I don't remeber doing it specifically, but my grammy tells me I was always asking him if he was going where the pie was. Man, that stuff is good.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alliegator
                                                                                tatamagouche Nov 20, 2010 07:19 PM

                                                                                You just spurred what may be the number one memory: my father bringing home from a trip a jar of peas and carrots, the candy that is:


                                                                                I was over the moon.

                                                                                1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                                  alkapal Nov 21, 2010 05:23 AM

                                                                                  i remember those! what a treat.

                                                                              2. f
                                                                                fryerlover Nov 17, 2010 09:13 AM

                                                                                Remember being about 2 in a cottage on Prince Edward Island and drinking tea from a bottle. I did not loke milk so my mother made a very milky, overly sugared tea to get me to drink milk and I loved it. Still love tea with way too much sugar as a very rare treat now. Also remember Liptons chicken noodle soup, poached eggs on toast that I would take the soft yolk out and throw it up in the air a few times, catch it and then eat after the throwing bored me. Hopefully my hands were clean when doing that.

                                                                                1. mrbigshotno.1 Nov 17, 2010 12:42 PM

                                                                                  Two things for me> Our next door neighbors nana making flour tortillas outside over a mesquite fire gossiping with her friends(all wearing black). Second is the smell of anise when my Mom made pizzeles at Christmastime. I think I was around 4 years old, late '50's.

                                                                                  1. n
                                                                                    nvcook Nov 17, 2010 12:58 PM

                                                                                    I remember certain foods from a young age but nothing that really rocked my socks. Then I spent a summer with my great aunt and uncle in Corning California. I had my first BLT (tomatoes fresh from the garden). The heavens opened and the angels sang and all was right in the world. I was so blown away, my aunt Alice made me two!!!! And 1 for every day the rest of my visit. I did not want to return home.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: nvcook
                                                                                      alkapal Nov 17, 2010 01:11 PM

                                                                                      i don't know if there is anything much better than a fresh-from-the-garden tomato sandwich -- and bacon is the proverbial icing on the cake.

                                                                                    2. FoodFuser Nov 17, 2010 07:42 PM

                                                                                      What a wonderful topic
                                                                                      so sweetly evocative
                                                                                      of those times when we
                                                                                      chewed upon chow in our youth.

                                                                                      Reading this thread,
                                                                                      I see lots of eggs.
                                                                                      My memory blossoms and smiles.
                                                                                      Eggs are eternal and part of the cycle
                                                                                      we hold to and cling to as truth.

                                                                                      Chicken first,?... Egg first.?.. is a linear dialectic
                                                                                      that reminds us: All is a Cycle.

                                                                                      My earliest memory was when I was two.
                                                                                      The Kitchen was yellow; Windows brought in the sunshine,
                                                                                      that shone on the treasure awaiting me:
                                                                                      Two freshly fried eggs in a bowl.

                                                                                      Placed in a bowl
                                                                                      'cause Mama well knowed
                                                                                      I'd soon take up the spoon
                                                                                      and I'd chop 'em.

                                                                                      Sun-streamed yellow walls danced in the morning soft sunlight
                                                                                      As I chopped those fried eggs with a toddler's delight
                                                                                      The bright yellow colors merging with energy and yolks
                                                                                      as I had at the spoon and devoured them

                                                                                      I have often gived memory
                                                                                      on this food-tasting journey
                                                                                      to the beauties of mornings,
                                                                                      and yellow, and yolks.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                        mariacarmen Nov 17, 2010 08:20 PM


                                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                          sunshine842 Nov 18, 2010 09:05 AM

                                                                                          Love that!

                                                                                          1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                            NellyNel Nov 18, 2010 10:54 AM


                                                                                            1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                              mamachef Nov 20, 2010 11:49 AM

                                                                                              This made me smile, laugh and cry a little at the same time, Ff.

                                                                                            2. f
                                                                                              funniduck Nov 17, 2010 08:05 PM

                                                                                              My earliest memory of food, but not actually eating:
                                                                                              I was 4, sitting down at the table for breakfast before pre-k. My mother put a hard boiled in front of me and told me to be careful, because it was still hot in the middle (she didn't cut it open). I don't remember why, but I stuck my thumb through it. It was hot and I ran off my chair screaming but I didn't take the egg off my finger! It fell off when I was running. I wouldn't eat a hard boiled egg for months after that. I was silly little girl. :)

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: funniduck
                                                                                                Perilagu Khan Nov 18, 2010 10:24 AM

                                                                                                You were funni even at four.

                                                                                              2. FoodFuser Nov 20, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                                                A Grand Cousin, aged 90,
                                                                                                has this morning contacted me.

                                                                                                He's a burly Norwegian, an immigrant Scandinavian.
                                                                                                Always lived in Milwaukee, so he's kept to his foods.

                                                                                                He reminded me fondly of his early days visits
                                                                                                when I was still diapered and just barely toddling.

                                                                                                One of the specialist foods come from Norway
                                                                                                is a cheese, caramelized whey, known as Gjetost.

                                                                                                He would bring a block down on his visits from Wisconsin.
                                                                                                Then he'd shave it, and place in my mouth, to slowly let melt on my tongue.

                                                                                                It's one of those things that I barely remember,
                                                                                                that melting of Gjetost from my tongue to my gullet.

                                                                                                But Dammit, he's Ninety.

                                                                                                And if he's got the memories of feeding this boy
                                                                                                his hand shavings of tongue-melting cheese,
                                                                                                I'm willing to reach back, way back, in my memories
                                                                                                and give this dear cousin believe.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                  buttertart Nov 22, 2010 09:22 AM


                                                                                                2. b
                                                                                                  bruleetoday Nov 20, 2010 05:01 PM

                                                                                                  -As a five year old I remember picking raspberries in a berry patch and looking up at the sky to see if I could an Apollo spacecraft flying overhead, it was the summer of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. I could see the moon but not the spacecraft, bummer, but the berries where sure good.
                                                                                                  -same year during the fall, my family picked oysters from the beach and brought them home. My Dad then used a screwdriver to try to open them. After conquering the frustration of his screwdriver slipping, he finally had them all shucked. They were then coated in bread crumbs and fried in butter and we kids got to eat them. They were exquisite. We had to watch out for pearls though, every once in a while you’d find one inside an oyster as you were chewing. Not the round glossy pearls you find on a necklace, but a rough irregular shaped one. Kind of like the prize in the Cracker Jack box.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: bruleetoday
                                                                                                    mariacarmen Nov 20, 2010 07:50 PM

                                                                                                    that's a great story.

                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                      mamachef Nov 21, 2010 06:30 AM

                                                                                                      Marvelous, bruleetoday. I love this thread. Whoever started it, is a pure genius. There's funny stuff here, but what I'm enjoying is the tender thread running through it.

                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                        alkapal Nov 21, 2010 07:00 AM

                                                                                                        i know, the OP is a GENIUS, i say!


                                                                                                        (ok mamachef, send my check to the address i gave you, alright? and don't be late like you were last time!!!).

                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                          mamachef Nov 21, 2010 07:13 AM

                                                                                                          I deposited it directly to your account, Alka, just to avoid any hard feelings like last time, re: the check that got "lost in the mail."

                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                            alkapal Nov 21, 2010 07:36 AM

                                                                                                            excellent. thanks. and ...no hard feelings. i'm in a forgiving mood -- this time.

                                                                                                  2. Passadumkeg Nov 21, 2010 06:39 AM

                                                                                                    Anyone for Zweibeck?

                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                      mamachef Nov 21, 2010 06:41 AM

                                                                                                      Ok, now that's got to be one of the earliest memories yet: a toothless Pdk gumming away on a zweiback cracker. Did it taste nice, Pdk? Do you crave them yet?

                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                        ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 07:10 AM

                                                                                                        My zweiback memories revolve around trying to get the gummy saliva soaked stuff out of the cracks and crevices of a 1950's vintage high chair . . . not to mention off the baby him/herself. In the hair. Down the front of the sleepers. Ground into the bib.



                                                                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                                                          sunshine842 Nov 21, 2010 09:43 AM

                                                                                                          Yeeeah. That's why Zwieback had a one-box run at my house.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                            ZenSojourner Nov 21, 2010 09:46 AM

                                                                                                            There was no zwieback at my house. This was from the good ol' days when I was chief cook and scullery maid and had to take care of all the younger kids. I had no input into what the babies were fed, I just had to see that they GOT fed.

                                                                                                            When my son came along, I already knew aaaaaaaall about Zwieback. Hence no Zwieback in my house!

                                                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                                                              sunshine842 Nov 21, 2010 11:32 AM

                                                                                                              I was dumb enough to ask what *I* had been given, and saw that it was still on the market, so hey, it must be great stuff, huh?

                                                                                                              I have a hunch my mother and grandmother were laughing as soon as I left for the grocery.

                                                                                                      2. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                        FoodFuser Nov 21, 2010 07:15 AM

                                                                                                        I've never quite found the really crisp thin stuff
                                                                                                        that Granddaddy, on visits, would bring around.

                                                                                                        It was crisp, paper thin,
                                                                                                        less than a millimeter.

                                                                                                        Is that Zwiebeck?
                                                                                                        if not, what the heck was it?

                                                                                                        I surely do search for that wafer.

                                                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                          mamachef Nov 21, 2010 07:34 AM

                                                                                                          So did it resemble some cute little toasts?
                                                                                                          Rectangular-shaped, and drier than most?
                                                                                                          A touch of sweetness, a whole lotta crunch?
                                                                                                          I think zweiback's what your Pappy brought you to munch.

                                                                                                          Or, maybe not. But this was fun. And if you look on the Babyfood aisle of your local store, you might just find it, made by Nabisco. Not sure; haven't looked for it in years, but worth a shot.

                                                                                                        2. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                          Perilagu Khan Nov 21, 2010 11:34 AM

                                                                                                          Always preferred Usqubeq.

                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                            mamachef Nov 21, 2010 01:09 PM

                                                                                                            ???? Ingles?

                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                              Perilagu Khan Nov 22, 2010 06:16 AM

                                                                                                              That's Gaelic--probably spelled incorrectly--for "water of life," i. e. Scotch whisky.

                                                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                mamachef Nov 22, 2010 06:27 AM

                                                                                                                Laced into your baby-bottles, right PK? Great for teething!! (totally kidding, would NEVER advocate this.)

                                                                                                              2. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                ZenSojourner Nov 22, 2010 08:36 AM

                                                                                                                Uisge? Or a relative?

                                                                                                          2. buttertart Nov 22, 2010 09:28 AM

                                                                                                            Being sat up on a table in the kitchen at age 2 or so by my great-aunt Nellie (a fantastic cook by the way) who was minding me - so that she could see me (vision wasn't that great) and make sure I was out from underfoot, keeping me there by feeding me humbugs (a small pillow-shaped striped mint hard candy) out of her apron pocket, where she kept a bunch of them at all times.
                                                                                                            I'm told that I used to go crazy for my vitamin drops when I was a tiny baby and I still like vitamin C-ish orange flavored things - and that my second word after mama was to' - for toast.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                              Perilagu Khan Nov 22, 2010 11:41 AM

                                                                                                              Many's the time I made a meal of Flintstones chewable vitamins chased by big hits of Creomulsion cough syrup.

                                                                                                              Nowadays I use the former as omelette filling and the latter on pancakes.

                                                                                                            2. kittenwithawhip Nov 22, 2010 02:31 PM

                                                                                                              Hot black tea in a bear shaped honey bottle with lots of milk and honey. With graham crakers.
                                                                                                              Still my comfort food, tho I drink it out of a mug now!

                                                                                                              1. BobB Feb 11, 2011 12:28 PM

                                                                                                                Probably aged 3 or 4 - able to talk but not yet old enough to make myself a peanut butter sandwich. My favorite aunt was about to make one for me, and she asked me whether I wanted the peanut butter spread thick or thin.

                                                                                                                For some reason that simple question was a blinding revelation, one that still reverberates within me to this day - the realization that the same food (PB sandwich) could provide two profoundly different eating experiences, depending on its method of preparation, and that I, through an exercise of will, could affect that outcome!

                                                                                                                My answer, after a moment of awed reflection, was "thick."

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: BobB
                                                                                                                  FoodFuser Feb 11, 2011 02:35 PM

                                                                                                                  Who would have thought that old PB could teach us the nuance of
                                                                                                                  when to spread thick
                                                                                                                  and when to spread thin.

                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                                    buttertart Feb 13, 2011 05:52 AM

                                                                                                                    Lovely post, BobB, and FoodFuser nailed why.

                                                                                                                2. s
                                                                                                                  suepedie Feb 11, 2011 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                  Mom's cookies and Grandma's buttermilk chocolate cake.

                                                                                                                  1. p
                                                                                                                    Pegmeister Feb 13, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                    I remember probably when I was around 5, my grandmother letting me help her make apple turnovers. The house smelled of apples and cinnamon and it was wonderful, but the best thing was the cinnamon and sugar pastry twists we made with the leftover dough. She would always have coffee in the morning and on that day she finally gave in and added a little to my milk. I absolutely hated it and still to this day do not drink coffee.

                                                                                                                    1. marthasway Feb 13, 2011 08:37 AM

                                                                                                                      The smell of cinnamon toast comes to mind as a precursor to any time/space memory. Cubes of mango and papaya, with a squeeze of lime, at a luau party my mother threw for me and two neighbor friends for my third birthday. We sat on cushions at the coffee table and in Dallas in February we were in the tropics.

                                                                                                                      I have no clue where she found the fresh fruit like that in 1963, but she's always been very resourceful!

                                                                                                                      1. Musie Sep 22, 2012 06:33 PM

                                                                                                                        My first real memory is of things I didn't really enjoy. I remember being forced by the cafeteria monitors to eat my lunch when I was 5 to 7. At that age I hated quiche and lasagna, so when that meal rolled around I would try to just eat the accompaniments, but I was always forced to eat the main. To this day I still cannot eat quiche and I only started eating lasagna maybe 3 years ago.

                                                                                                                        Pizza is maybe my first positive. I grew up in a pub and the kitchen had a special pizza oven. I used to love making my own toppings and cooking my pizza, just the way I wanted it.

                                                                                                                        1. Bob W Sep 22, 2012 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                          Age 3 or 4 -- waking up with a crumpled Hersheys with Almonds wrapper next to my bed. My parents used to keep them in the fridge, and I would wake up in the middle of the night and get one.

                                                                                                                          It was not until a few years later that I discovered that dark chocolate was so much better.

                                                                                                                          1. n
                                                                                                                            nativebatonrougean Oct 3, 2012 08:31 PM

                                                                                                                            I remember the pink birthday cake I had when I was three. (No pictures of it, just the memory.) I remember eating white rice with a pat of butter on it with my grandmother, also cafe-au-lait, also at 3. I remember being two but I don't remember the food!

                                                                                                                            1. MplsM ary Oct 3, 2012 09:04 PM

                                                                                                                              Chocolate milk in my bottle. I remember being very surprised and really liking the taste, and that it was so liquid compared to whatever formula they fed babies in the early 60's.

                                                                                                                              My first bad food memory was when I was three and a half, maybe four. For a week or so I was sent to a daycare each weekday during the middle of the day. The woman who ran it served all the kids Chef Boyardee ravioli. I hurled after the first bite. I complained bitterly to my mother when we were walking home from daycare. "Well, I'm sure it will be something better tomorrow," Mom assured me. Next day? Chef Boyardee ravioli. On the third day Mom packed me a sandwich. Come lunch, I was served Chef Boyardee ravioli. "It wouldn't be fair to all the other kids," said the daycare lady.

                                                                                                                              Though our family was casually Episcopalian, Mom enrolled me at Beth El Synagogue Aleph Pre-School the very next day. There, I have one of my first making food memories: our class made hamantaschen. I remember thinking that the people who ran that place must be the most patient people in the world - messy little kids making baked goods. They were all so sweet and calm and helpful. I loved that school.

                                                                                                                              1. mamachef Oct 7, 2012 05:15 AM

                                                                                                                                Awwww, I just checked in here; haven't seen this in a long while. And it's timely: I was talking to Darling Daughter the other day, and she brought up a memory of #1 son, when he was maybe 5 and a few months which would have made her 3. Pretty early for a food memory, but this one was so vivid, it stayed with her to this day. It was Mike's birthday, and of course, there was cake. Which means there was: leftover cake. Which WAS put away. The day after the birthday, I got up early (customary) but not only had the kids been up for a minute or two, (!) but big brother had requisitioned the leftovers. They were sitting under the dining-room table, partially concealed by a cloth, with the cake plate in between them; frosting and crumbs everywhere, and two sugared up, blissed-out kids going after the remainder. I looked under the cloth and said, "what are you doing?" And Mike said, "we got caaaaaaake!" and Lauren looked up at me and clapped her hands and said, "cake! Cake! CAKE!" - which is the part she remembers so well.
                                                                                                                                How do you get upset at something like that? And isn't it something how some memories can make you laugh and then cry?

                                                                                                                                1. Steve Green Oct 7, 2012 02:23 PM

                                                                                                                                  Earliest would probably be a bowl of cold canned string beans with mayo. Not exactly haute cuisine. Next, I think, were "shtickels" at a local deli (sort of a beef Slim Jim thing), and Hydrox cookies -- can't replicate that one.

                                                                                                                                  Since my mom was a great baker, but a not-so-great cook, some of my fondest early food memories are of baked goods that I helped make -- in particular, thumbprint cookies, with that great baked-nut smell* and taste. I was entrusted to chop the nuts (in a wooden bowl, with one of those lethal-looking steel choppers), and to then ball up the dough, dip into beaten egg and then into the nuts, and sometimes also do the all-important thumb-press. Back to Mom for jam application and baking.

                                                                                                                                  For holidays, we used to make something my parents called hazen-blossoms -- this was a family project. Mom rolled out pastry dough paper-thin and cut it into diamonds with a slit in the middle (using one of those zigzag pastry wheels, which at the time was made of hand-carved wood). I pulled the ends through the slit to make sort of a bowtie, which was a delicate process due to the extreme thinness of the dough. There was a certain amount of pressure in this, as the dough-rolling was pretty labor-intensive, and Mom didn't appreciate it when I would occasionally rip the dough when making the knots.

                                                                                                                                  Dad handled the deep-frying, in a deep cast iron frying pan, and I would then arrange them on a serving plate, sifting powdered sugar over each layer. I'm not sure where my older brother was in all of this, as he was a bit of a klutz in the kitchen. I know he ate his share. All this started well before I turned six. Later on I graduated to cutting the dough as well, but never the rolling (although I tried -- Mom made it look so easy!).

                                                                                                                                  Much later, when I suggested making these things "like when we were young", I recall a meaningful glance between my parents, before Dad said "sure, but now you get to do the deep-frying". I quickly learned what a miserable (and dangerous!) chore that was, and it was the last time for making those.

                                                                                                                                  * I think some of our earliest memories are tied to smell. The department-store bulk candy counters -- what a wonderland for a small child. These were signalled by a certain indescribable, but specific, mixed-candy smell, before I even saw that island of glassed-in compartments with its scoops, scales, and little white bags. Another very early memory for me is being in downtown Oakland with my mom (I couldn't have been older than 3 or 4), when she pulled out a tin of strong-smelling and intensely-flavored ammonium-chloride licorice candies. I rediscovered these at German delis as an adult, and now know them as salmiak pastillen. Hmm, diamond shapes again.

                                                                                                                                  Not food-related, but downtown Oakland at that time (mid/late-fifties) was a very busy place with lots of noise and traffic, sidewalks filled with businessmen rushing about in gray suits and hats, and women wearing hats, gloves, and perfume. The Key System tracks were being torn out on Adeline St. in South Berkeley, and houses were being moved or demolished for the future BART. Things became much quieter over the following years and decades, both in downtown Oakland, and on Adeline St.

                                                                                                                                  My compliments to the (mama)Chef for a great thread!

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve Green
                                                                                                                                    mamachef Oct 8, 2012 05:39 AM

                                                                                                                                    Steve, these are just wonderful. I agree about our memories being so heavily tied to scent, even on a subconcioius level: there's a store in my hometown that used to be a chocolate factory/candy store. It no longer serves as such, but i've walked in and been hit with such an almost-cloying scent of sugar and chocolate that it was mindblowing - yet the person with me smelled...not a thing.
                                                                                                                                    Your writing is wonderful. Do you miss those cookies?
                                                                                                                                    Thanks so much. I always look forward to seeing what you have to say.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                      Steve Green Oct 8, 2012 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the kind words, Mamachef. I'd write more, but it's a very slow process for me.

                                                                                                                                      I do miss those cookies -- I should hunt down a thumbprint cookie recipe and try my hand at it. It's been a long time since I've done any baking, as my taste runs more to savory items these days. As for the fried things, as much as I would enjoy them, I still vividly remember (decades later) those hours over the hot oil, and have no desire to repeat that experience. Not to mention that I'd probably go nuts and eat about fifty of the things.

                                                                                                                                      BTW, I loved your story about your kids and the cake.

                                                                                                                                  2. q
                                                                                                                                    Querencia Oct 7, 2012 08:15 PM

                                                                                                                                    When I was 3 or 4---my great-grandmother sitting on the cellar stairs cracking black walnuts between a flatiron and a hammer. She had a tree in the back yard and it was the Depression so lots of free nuts went in everything---cakes, icebox cookies, divinity fudge. PS last week I paid $32 for a 2-lb bag of shelled black walnuts including the shipping; wish I had a black walnut tree now.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia
                                                                                                                                      mamachef Oct 8, 2012 05:41 AM

                                                                                                                                      Awwww.......this is SO sweet; such an eternal memory of family; who they are, and what they did. I'm imagining your great-grandmother as the matriarch; the homemaker. And I wish you had a black walnut tree for your very own too, cause I know you'd share. :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia
                                                                                                                                        Perilagu Khan Oct 8, 2012 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                        My grandparents had an American walnut tree. Not sure if that's the same as black walnuts, but the walnut shells were black and hard as diamonds. (Diamonds-walnuts...Diamond Walnuts. Get it?)

                                                                                                                                        Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, my great walnut scheme. So I gathered up a grocery sack of these concrete spheres and told my mom I was going to sell them door-to-door. She scoffed, "Nobody will pay you a dime for those!"

                                                                                                                                        Well, a couple of my little buddies and I proved her wrong. I made about five bucks, which, for a seven-year-old urchin in 1974 was a princely sum.

                                                                                                                                        As an aside, as I walked back down the street I saw one of my customers, a little boy even younger than myself, standing on his porch spitting out bits of walnut with a chagrined look on his face, while his mother, hands on hips, stood behind him glaring at me.

                                                                                                                                        Heh heh.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                          mamachef Oct 8, 2012 06:11 AM

                                                                                                                                          Hey, PK! So you were at it even then, huh? Thanks for giving me a great laugh, you scoundrel!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                            Perilagu Khan Oct 8, 2012 06:26 AM

                                                                                                                                            My career as a fraud started very early. ;)

                                                                                                                                      2. danna Oct 8, 2012 06:29 AM

                                                                                                                                        I know you asked for good memories....but I offer this anyway....

                                                                                                                                        I was 5 or so, and got a spanking because I obnoxiously objected to letting the children of my Mom's guest have first pick among the various available ice cream treats. I suppose I remember it so well because I was a teacher's pet-ish child who minded her mother all the time...except, apparently, when food was involved.

                                                                                                                                        Some obsessions start early and never change.

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: danna
                                                                                                                                          mamachef Oct 8, 2012 07:08 AM

                                                                                                                                          danna, after a certain point, it's impossible to ignore the tangentiality of things like food memories, so yours is fine by me. Your post made me seriously laugh out loud. Some obsessions DO start very early. I remember going on a field trip to Carmel, Ca. w/ my 4th-grade class, after which we had to write an essay about the trip. All the other kids wrote about the ocean, and the beach, and the jellyfish at Pt. Lobos. My entire essay was basically a food diary. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                            Perilagu Khan Oct 8, 2012 07:41 AM

                                                                                                                                            Did you eat a jellyfish? ;)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                              mamachef Oct 9, 2012 04:27 PM

                                                                                                                                              No, bootyhead. I mean; PK. We observed them. I'm not sure any of our parents would have signed a permission slip that involved saying "yes" to the ingestion of weird food items. :P
                                                                                                                                              I love me a good jellyfish salad, and so do most of the other hippie-kids I was raised with.

                                                                                                                                        2. grampart Oct 8, 2012 06:35 AM

                                                                                                                                          "Norwegian" pancakes (sweet crepes) with fresh blueberries (added to the batter). I remember eating them in the kitchen of the house we moved out of shortly after my 3rd birthday. On occasion, I have made them for my own grandchildren. Cast iron pan is a must.

                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: grampart
                                                                                                                                            mamachef Oct 8, 2012 07:09 AM

                                                                                                                                            Ooooooh don't those sound good! Would it be horribly wrong of me to ask you to share a family recipe? I promise to use cast iron!!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                              grampart Oct 8, 2012 07:42 PM

                                                                                                                                              Not at all. Pretty simple, really.
                                                                                                                                              5 eggs (well beaten)
                                                                                                                                              1/2 cup sugar
                                                                                                                                              2 cups flour
                                                                                                                                              about 2 cups milk

                                                                                                                                              Add sugar to eggs, add flour gradually, add milk until mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. I use a hand-held electric mixer and blend all the sugar before I start adding the flour. The milk will have to be added a little at a time while adding the flour. Better to be too thin than too thick. Medium hot pan, add a pat of butter and swirl it around, then pour in just enough batter (depends on size of pan) and tilt it around so that the batter spreads to the edges. Take a peek under the pancake after a bit to check for perfect color (I like to see some dark spots on mine). Flip when right and repeat. Blueberries in the batter do make for a slightly messy pan. A light sprinkle of more sugar, roll up, and mash down a little with a fork to pop the berries. This may result in the persons sitting to your left and-or right getting burned and/or stained, so be careful. Plain pancakes can be served with a little butter and a sprinkle of sugar or your choice of preserves. Not exactly a health food. NOTE: if you half the recipe, use 3 eggs. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: grampart
                                                                                                                                                grampart Oct 11, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                You're very welcome, mamachef

                                                                                                                                                1. re: grampart
                                                                                                                                                  mamachef Jan 20, 2013 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Not a health food, but oh so good! :)

                                                                                                                                          2. j
                                                                                                                                            joelmc Oct 9, 2012 01:25 PM

                                                                                                                                            My earliest memory is BREAD. I remember an unsliced loaf sitting on our kitchen counter, I reached up (so must have been shorter than a standard kitchen counter), shoeved my hand in and pulled out the insides of the loaf. My mom went to slice it and there was only the crust left. Now that was good bread!

                                                                                                                                            1. l
                                                                                                                                              laliz Oct 11, 2012 09:35 AM

                                                                                                                                              I have two vivid food memories, don't know which is earliest.

                                                                                                                                              First is at my grandmother's table and we are served roast beef. It is sooooooo good, and I want it with ketchup and my grandfather wants horseradish. She (Grandma Effie) scolds both of us and complains we are ruining her food, but she gives it to us. I remember how juicy and I remember eating the crispy fat.

                                                                                                                                              Second memory is with my mother at a lunch counter in the very small town where we lived in Pennsylvania. I am really young, maybe three-ish. My mother orders a cheeseburger and I ask her what that is and can I have one. She lets me order, but assures me I won't like it.

                                                                                                                                              She was wrong, and I remember that first cheeseburger to this day with longing.
                                                                                                                                              I've been back, the lunch counter is gone. No cheeseburger has ever lived up to that memory. Every once in a while I'd get a flash, aha, this is close, but never "it".

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                                mamachef Oct 11, 2012 09:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                Laliz: You just made my day.

                                                                                                                                              2. Jpan99 Oct 11, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                4-years-old, stealing a Ring Ding from the cupboard. Mom yelling, "did you just steal a Ring Ding?"

                                                                                                                                                Nope. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                1. Perilagu Khan Oct 11, 2012 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                  When I was three or four years old at a family gathering in a relative's house, I stole into a bedroom and swallowed half a bottle of perfume. I then went blazing into the room where all the adults were gathered and bawled out, "I didn't drink no perfume!"

                                                                                                                                                  Food memory or no? You be the judge.

                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                                    mamachef Jan 20, 2013 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                    This made me laugh 'til I had tears in my eyes, PK. I mean...glad you didn't get sick but...oh this is classic.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                                      Perilagu Khan Jan 20, 2013 09:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Liked that? Here's another from about the same time:

                                                                                                                                                      Dad purchased three gorgeous T-bones and was cooking them on the grill. (Now bear in mind that these were lean times, so to speak, and steak was a significant splurge.) Dad went inside for some reason leaving me alone with the grill. Major mistake. I wandered into the alley and doodled around a bit until I found a bottle of some substance. In my preliterate ignorance--or was it mischievousness?--I opened the bottle and poured its contents all over the steaks. Turns out that "substance" was some sort of repellent to prevent dogs from urinating where you applied it. My left buttock still has a dent.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                                        mariacarmen Jan 20, 2013 09:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                        pk, why am i not surprised at this story? not only were you cooking up trouble, but you were already experimenting with different flavor profiles.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                          Perilagu Khan Jan 20, 2013 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Yes, I was a twisted hybrid of Alton Brown and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                                          mamachef Jan 20, 2013 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                          PK, on a related note, when my kid brother was really a baby, baby, my parents had the occasional cocktail party which ended in the way those things do; leftover highballs sitting around the next morning. My bro. and I must have been up for the first toast, which must have been, "luck!!" because the next morning when my folks managed to rope him in and twist the glass outta his chubby hand, he, purple-faced, kept bellowing "more luck!! More LUCK!!"

                                                                                                                                                          Again, good nobody got hurt. But a funny memory, even if not PC.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                                            shanagain Jan 20, 2013 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Lol! Goodness, it's a miracle we made it into our teens! I've mentioned my dad being the president of the Jaycees back in the early 70's, when those parties were commonplace, for sure.

                                                                                                                                                            Well, the "Little White House" (can you believe the Jaycees president lived in a Jaycees-owned house in Tulsa, Oklahoma?) was sponsored by several companies - we apparently had all the Pepsi products you could ever want, as well as an amply stocked beer room.

                                                                                                                                                            One day my mom found a friend an I, as four year olds, under a table in the "beer room" - she'd pop the tops, and I'd drink the beer. Yikes.

                                                                                                                                                            Another time, they were having a huge party, with Pepsi-supplied dispenser fountains set up on the back porch. Apparently I pulled each tap open, setting up a PepsiCo river down the porch, across the patio and into the yard.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shanagain
                                                                                                                                                              Perilagu Khan Jan 20, 2013 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Dang, girl, I do bleeve you could drink me under the table. You've certainly got the experience.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                                                shanagain Jan 20, 2013 11:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                My liver could kick your liver's ass. ;)

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                                              Perilagu Khan Jan 20, 2013 11:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Heh. That's a riot. I've heard that my dad, when little more than a toddler, used to fish cigarette butts out of ashtrays, sneak away and attempt to smoke them. Not good.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                                                shanagain Jan 20, 2013 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I don't know why this makes me laugh, because it's horrible, but it does.

                                                                                                                                                      2. l
                                                                                                                                                        Lmrbest Jan 20, 2013 10:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Daddy would make me breakfast, cleverly named "egg on top of toast", a perfectly cooked over-easy egg on toast and would cut it into nine perfect squares. I always saved the middle crustless one for my last bite. One day Mommy made it for me, but just cut it up willy-nilly and I cried because it wasn't right and I wouldn't eat it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. h
                                                                                                                                                          HillJ Jan 20, 2013 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                          The 'adult' taste of coffee ice cream in the summer with my Mom. Bar pie (pizza) sitting on a bar stool in PA with my Dad. My very first box of Cracker Jacks at a park in Brooklyn with my Grandfather.

                                                                                                                                                          I was probably four or five.

                                                                                                                                                          1. p
                                                                                                                                                            plasticanimal Jan 20, 2013 03:01 PM


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