Why is it that food always brings back memories? Some fond and others not so much. In looking back at my family memories, I've noticed there is always (and I mean ALWAYS) food involved.
As a child when we would visit my father's parents, the trip always included a meal at one of their favorite restaurants. There were the Thanksgiving dinners at the New England Steakhouse or the Cock 'n Kettle which included the whole family. Or just the non-holiday dinners at Brian's with whomever was around. There was the trip to Anthony's Pier 4 after my grandmother's final diagnosis from Dana Farber. And the family style dinner at some restaurant whose name I can't even remember where my grandpa ate absolutely everything. We did eat at my grandparents' house, but my grandma was not a great cook. That was not a surprise to anyone and certainly not to her. She was well aware that her cooking was not the best, but that was half the fun of eating there. What would she attempt and how bad would it be? Dinners always started with cocktails, real ones for the adults and a Shirley Temple for me. Man I loved those cherries!
A trip to my mother's family home always found us in the kitchen. Just the kitchen. Eating and drinking tea. My gramma always had those little Entermann's frosted donuts and we could each have a couple with a cup of weak tea. Any time someone had an upset belly, she pulled out a bag of Canada Mints from her purse. Those always did the trick. For special occasions she would make her famous Dynamite. I never found out why it was called Dynamite, but it was certainly a type of chili. When she died, one of my aunts took over making the Dynamite for our special occasions, but it just wasn't the same. Nancy tried and her Dynamite certainly was good, it just wasn't gramma's dish. When the family outgrew my gramma's house, we started having potluck holiday parties at a local hall. Everyone would bring their favorite dish, and boy that opens up a slew of memories!
I love these memories, even the sad ones, and can pinpoint certain milestones in my life to the meals that were consumed at those times. There was the law school graduation dinner at Barretts, the engagement dinner at the Ritz, the martinis at Boston's in FLA the day my grandma died. Never mind the meal served at my wedding!
I've noticed that the memories I'm creating with my husband and children are following the same sort of pattern. Friday night when we missed our plane home to visit family, Princess started crying. Not because we missed our flight, but because we would not being having dinner at a new restaurant with Grandma and Papa that night! Food is such a part of my life that at my wedding shower, the guests all brought their favorite recipe which went into a recipe box for me.
Visits with my parents usually include a meal at one of their favorite restaurants. Dinners at home always start with cocktail hour. Real ones for the adults and Shirley Temples for Princess and The Boy. Visits with my mother-in-law usually revolve around her kitchen. Just the kitchen. Eating and drinking tea. Nana doesn't have the Entermann's frosted donuts, but she usually has her homemade Irish bread, which quite frankly is much better than anything store-bought.
I love these memories too and I've noticed that my kids are able to pinpoint their memories to the meals that were consumed at the time. There was that time that Grandma and Papa took Princess and The Boy to a fancy-schmancy dinner and the kids had to get dressed up; the time Princess took Grandma and Papa to the Sushi Train in Reykjavik; and the time that Nana made them Daddy's favorite pancakes for breakfast the morning after a sleep-over. Just based on the comments I've overheard from Princess and The Boy, I think they will love these memories too!