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Food memories

Remember that movie “Ratatouille” that came out a few years ago?  I was reading an interview with Anthony Bourdain and he said that Ratatouille was one of the best food movies ever made, because it emphasized the idea (in the scene where Anton Ego, the food critic, eats Remy’s ratatouille) that the best meals can transport you to a memory or different time in your life.  Do you associate certain foods/tastes/smells with specific memories from your life?

It is impossible for me to eat white toast with butter and strawberry jelly and not think about my mom.  It was one of her favorite breakfast foods, and that combination of sweet, savory, salty and crunchy always makes me think of spending time with her on lazy Saturday mornings when I was a kid.

I started to get hungry a few hours after my chicken sandwich last night and decided to toast up a sandwich thin, and the memories flooded back:


It hit the spot perfectly!  Not too heavy right before bed, but filling enough that I was hungry again.

So, a little more about my mom.  She suffered from some serious health problems for most of my life and when she passed away almost four years ago, it was incredibly bittersweet.  She was in chronic pain for years and years and while I was glad that she was no longer suffering so much, it crushed me that she never got to see me really grow up.

She was alive for my college graduation (but missed it because she couldn’t make it through the ceremony), but never saw me get my first real job, finish graduate school, get engaged or get married.  She’ll never be around when I have kids, and I’ll have to explain death to our kids far too early when they ask why their mom doesn’t have a mom too.  Sometimes it really gets me down.  I’m really lucky that she had four years to get to know Matt; she loved him as much as I do and knew that we were going to spend our lives together.

My mom had a really precarious relationship with food, and I think I picked up a bunch of bad habits from her.  For one, she was a big fan of using food (specifically, sweets or a giant hearty meal like steak and potatoes) as a reward for everything: a bad day, a good day, a skinned knee, doing well on a test, etc. etc.  She also thought that one of the only ways to lose weight in the short-term was to not eat at all. Not so good.  :-/

On the plus side, my mom was an amazing cook and taught me almost everything I know about cooking and entertaining.  We would spend HOURS watching the Food Network together when I was a teenager, and she would interject her own words of wisdom and cooking tips during the shows.  Side note: she was a huge Emeril fan but couldn’t stand Bobby Flay (apparently, he seemed like a “womanizer”) or Rachael Ray (I think she called her a geek?).

Here’s one of my favorite pics of my mom and I, making cookies:

iron chef kara

I was such a cute little pudge!  I wish I had more pictures of the two of us, but my mom was self-conscious about her weight and hated getting her picture taken.  Funny how this stuff gets passed down… 😦

Alright, time to do some chores around the house before a very belated birthday dinner on Long Island. Back later!

I have to give a HUGE thank you to my wonderful husband for spending an hour in Photoshop this morning designing my new custom blog header.  You’re the best, Matt!!


One Response

  1. Kara, this was sweet post. It is so true that certain smells & tastes can bring back memories. It’s nice that you will have always those as another way to remember your mom.

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