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You rub on the magical Chowhound Lamp and.... (Part II)

...the Chowhound Genie appears before you, and this time the Genie's feeling a bit nostalgic, and decides to grant you one wish. You can once again eat something you thought you'd never, ever get the chance to eat again.

It could be something someone who's no longer with you prepared; or a dish in a now-defunct restaurant; or a product of a place and time that will never be repeated; or something they don't make anymore.

You get one magical chance to taste again that special food from your past. What would it be?

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  1. My Grandma Ida made a cookie called Heavenly Hash. It was almost like candy: airy deep chocolate studded with unmelted marshmallows and chunks of walnut. Nothing like the processed Rocky Road Candy - it wasn't chewy and pully, and in Rocky Road the marshmallows are melted. Ugh.
    I know that the airness factor came from whipped egg whites. She showed me how to make them once, when I was maybe 8, me sitting on the counter and looking on; her in a pretty apron with her hair done just so; moving briskly because she knew exactly what she was doiing. She explained the folding process for me, and showed me. The base also involved Hershey's cocoa.
    I don't have the Sisterhood cookbook from that temple anymore. I mourn its loss. But I do have wonderful memories of food, and cooking, and warmth and love and acceptance and safety, watching Gramma Ida cook.

    1 Reply
    1. Boerewors and biltong... neither of which I've had in 30 years.

        1. re: PotatoHouse

          The Lobster Thermidor at the Rueben E. Lee restaurant in Newport Beach.

        2. My mother's meatloaf and mashed potatoes followed by apple dumplings with vanilla caramel sauce. My childhood memories on a plate. Sadly, those recipes died with her passing. This Tuesday marks the 4th anniversary of her passing. Guess she is heavy on my mind this weekend.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sherriberry

            Pay tribute to your mother, then cook the meal, even if it doesn't turn out like hers you are still thinking of her while you are doing it God Bless!

            1. re: kpaumer

              Good idea. My meatlof isn't as good, but it is passable. The vanilla caramel sauce, on the other hand, gonna have to do some research. That is what made the dumplings out of this world.

            2. re: sherriberry

              sherriberry so sorry, thinking of you tonight. your mom would have loved that you want so much to taste her good food again, i am sure. my mom wasn't a great cook, but she is still missed dreadfully. you go ahead and make your own version - and write it down for your own kids! (if you have them.)

            3. Lobster Newburg at the Brown Derby in Hollywood. Also their Cobb Salad. aaah, spent so many leisurely champagne-soaked Sunday afternoons there.... time and place.

              1. It would be a meal. Summer supper in 1956 or so in OK, with my parents, grandparents and my sibs. Most of everything is out of my Granddad's garden: Golden Bantam corn on the cob, Kentucky Wonder green beans cooked with salt pork in the Southern way, sliced Big Boy tomatoes, and probably cucumbers and onions in vinegar with lots of pepper. Possibly there is fried fatback and cornbread. And for dessert, my grandmother's very, very good blackberry cobbler, which I believe we eat with a little milk. My mother fusses because the milk is non-pasteurized, but maybe she lets us have some anyway.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sueatmo

                  My goodness, I'd have loved to be at that meal. You are so lucky you have those memories and got to eat what sounds like beautiful homemade country food.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    Raw milk! Your whole family could have been arrested by the FDA! (Not what your mother was worried about)

                  2. My grandmother's cole slaw and gefilte fish. Who makes gefilte fish anymore?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Steve

                      My daughter's MIL makes gefilte fish for every Jewish holiday. Unfortunately for all of us. Instead of fish, I'm pretty sure she uses chopped sponge mixed with Styrofoam. And then, of course, adds no seasonings. She is insisting on bringing it for Rosh Hashonah dinner.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        A nice girl once made me dinner, and everything was fabulous. She really was an excellent cook. Except for the gefilte fish.

                      2. re: Steve

                        I make it. The jar stuff is gross

                        1. re: Steve

                          Years ago, when we were living in Texas, the Fort Worth Star Telegram ran a baked gefilte fish recipe. I am not Jewish, had never had gefilte fish and wasn't even sure what it should look like. I'd only seen it floating like lab specimens in some scary-looking liquid in jars in the grocery store, so when I saw this recipe for baked gefilte fish, I thought I'd try it. It was like a fish loaf with 3 pounds of some sort of white fish (can't remember what I bought) and it stunk up the house for days. I opened windows, burned those dreadfully perfumey Yankee Candles and even fried cinnamon sticks and boiled orange peel in the microwave, but for weeks afterward, when I'd come home from somewhere, I could still detect that awful smell.

                          Unless the boiled kind is less stinky, there's a reason why it's made in a factory.

                        2. Having tasted pizzas in hundreds of places around the world, I just wanted that perfect piece of pizza I had in, of all places, a little stand in the foodcourt of the Old Post Office Building in Washington DC, back in 1992. Thru some fluke, they produced this one perfect pizza on that one occasion - the perfect taste, the perfect texture - which had haunted me ever since.

                          1. Mine is at a restaurant called Switchville Tavern in Jenkintown, Pa. Went there starting with my parents in the 60's and ended when they closed in the 80's (?). Ordered two things, flounder stuffed with crabmeat and their sauteed softshells which he dipped in a mix of garlic powder and MSG before sauteing. For whatever reason no flounder was ever close, stopped eating it, and the softshells have never been repeated as good again, still eat a lot of them, but not THAT one.

                            1. A garbage pie from Pizza West in West Hartford, CT. They closed maybe 5 years back, and nothing else comes close - it was the best Greek pizza in the world. Been trying to find the owner to beg for the dough recipe, but no luck so far....

                              1. anything in my grandmother's kitchen, as long as she could be there.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Abalone - but that's assuming that the magical lamp would make me not allergic to it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: 512window

                                    Green turtle steak. Would always stop at the Green Turtle Inn when in the Keys. Last time I had it was 15 years ago in the Bahamas. Still legal then.

                                  2. My grandma's fried tomatoes. We just about lived on them in the summer. She'd drive us out to the farm where we'd buy baskets and baskets of red, fat tomatoes. We'd wait while they'd come in on the back of a truck, fresh from the fields. I'll never forget the smell of those New Jersey tomatoes, just picked, and still warm from the sun.

                                    Being a kid, the highlight of the visit for me, though, was playing with all the kittens who lived in the barns. I hated when it was time to go. I'd beg to take just one home, please? Every now and then, one would end up a tiny stowaway in the car, and no amount of begging on my part would keep us from taking it back.

                                    I never knew people fried green tomatoes until I was older. She always fried them red. The kitchen counters were always full of tomatoes, waiting until they were just perfectly ripe. Then -sliced, floured, dusted, and into a hot cast iron pan - crunchy bits on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside.

                                    I've been back to that farm, and I have her skillet, but I've never been able to duplicate Nanny's fried tomatoes. I miss her.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Whinerdiner

                                      Whinerdiner, I just have one question:
                                      - Do you now have a cat?
                                      ; )

                                      1. re: aurora50

                                        Much to the dismay of my husband (and the delight of my son) we have five cats, two huge dogs (actually one dog just passed, but she's still part of the family to me), two parrots, a dwarf hamster and a koi pond. With the Frontline alone, we keep our vet in business.

                                        I'm kinda like a pet polygamist.

                                      2. re: Whinerdiner

                                        Thanks. You may have partially solved my 10 pounds of tomatoes from the CSA problem. I'm going to try frying the ripe ones. It never occurred to me to do that.

                                      3. I accompanied my best friend to Korea to meet her birth parents 4 years ago. We spent a few days in Seoul before heading out of the city to her family's home. The first day, we were very jetlagged, hungry and cold. There was a stall that sold this wonderful, red pepper-y crab stew. It made everything right with the world. And when we returned to Seoul, we couldn't find it again. We stayed in a different hotel, and were so discombubulated in our efforts to get around the city. I've tried to make dishes I think will be similar at home, but it's never the same. Sigh...

                                        1. Dinner at the window table at Troy's in Toronto when Cecil Troy was alive. It was some of the most innovative food available at the time (Troy traveled in the summers and cooked things from those travels on his return). The welcome from his partner, Lazlo, was always kind and charming. We were crushed when we heard Troy had died.

                                          1. So many things my maternal grandmother used to make from her garden - her raspberry current jam for one. I *might* still have a jar squirrled away in my pantry somewhere - she doesn't cook much anymore at all.
                                            My paternal grandmother's cookies - specifically her black and white cookies, and her gingerbread. My mother says she used lard, which made the cookies so puffy and wonderful. I just know that no one has ever made them as well since she died when I was 7.

                                            1. My grandmother's cherry and raisin strudel, so rich, so moist, so delectable. As a kid, I always begged for seconds and thirds, if I could get away with it. She tried unsuccessfully to teach my mother how to make it. Since she (my grandmother) never cooked or baked from a written recipe, the secrets of the strudel went to the grave with her when she died.

                                              1. If I could turn back the clock, I'd wish for any meal at our dining table with my dog resting his chin on my leg, looking up at me with that forlorn look in his eyes. He was a devoted member of our family for almost 15 years, and we had to put him to sleep yesterday. I miss him so dearly. He had no favorite food - he loved everything that we offered him. No table rules, boy - you get all the love, praise and food off the table that your heart desires.

                                                11 Replies
                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                    Condolences on your pet. What kind of dog was he? Friends in Paso Robles had two cats for over 15 years. The older one died at age 18 in the spring, followed by the younger one (16) just last week. Remarkable was that the cats had both developed some very dog-like behavior.

                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                      Toby was an Australian Shepherd. Funny you mention your friends' cats having dog-like behavior. Toby had some cat-like behaviors. He used his paws at times like a cat. He'd swat at things, or try to catch things by putting his paws together. When I'd leave for work in the morning, he'd blow me off (I guess) because I was of no more use to him since I'd be gone.

                                                      If you know this breed, they are obsessive about things that interest them. Frisbees, balls, cats, squirrels, groups of people, etc. Food? He'd circle the dinner table to size everyone up, come up to the "easiest" victim to manipulate, sit down next to and rest his chin on the person's lap and stare up at you with the look of a pitiful creature. If you said, "No," he'd adjust his chin on your lap and repose the "pity" stare and shake his butt (imagine him trying to shake his tail which didn't have). If that didn't work, he'd take a couple of steps back, look you in the eyes, swivel his head and look directly at his "treat locker," and stare back at you, repeating this process. No response? He'd let out this wimpy high-pitched bark, that increased in volume until someone finally would knuckle under and give him something just to get the acquisition of food off his mind. He was diligent at working the table. What also amazes me is he never would grab any food that was off-limits to him - even if it was easily within reach. He really was a good boy.

                                                    2. re: bulavinaka

                                                      I'm so sorry for your loss. Lost my beloved Palmer two years ago and I still miss him.

                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                        I feel for you too. Toby was my fourth dog, and it doesn't get any easier.

                                                      2. re: bulavinaka

                                                        oh i'm so sorry. it's terrible to lose those furred ones. i hope you give a nice warm loving home to another needy pet, in his honor, and for you to enjoy and perhaps assuage your loss a little.

                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                          Thanks. My daughter was already talking about getting another dog (she's nine), but I told her it's far too soon to even consider at this time. Toby was my first kid - he came into our lives before our "other" two children.

                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                            Thank you. All dogs do go to heaven, right?

                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                              Depends on their religion. But then, "dog" spelled backwards is...

                                                              Thank you for your tale about Toby, and all the best in dealing with your loss...