For the Love of Food and Nostalgia

 

“Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.”

Sounds awesome to me–add in “read” and it’s practically perfect.

Those are the four words Top Chef judge Gail Simmons wrote down when asked what she wanted to do with her life once she graduated college.

 

 Talking with my Mouth Full details her quest to create a successful career out of those four words.

 

As I read her food stories from childhood up to her hosting Top Chef: Just Desserts, I couldn’t help but get caught up in my own food nostalgia.

One of the earliest and most vivid food memories I have is of a glass bakery case filled with sprinkle cookies and pastel frosted cupcakes–all of which were right at my eye level.  I was maybe three or four.

I wonder how many hand prints and nose smudges had to be cleaned from that glass front everyday?

All I remember is the excitement.

Because there can be a lot of emotion tucked away inside of our food memories.

Like the laughter at family birthday parties, especially as my sister and I dipped forkfuls of cake into our tea cups.   The comforting ritual of a bowl of cereal as I watched Saturday morning cartoons.  Or the fun and freedom of walking to the tiny convenience store on the military housing base I lived on in Michigan to buy sweet chewy rice candy (I loved how the rice wrapper just melted in my mouth).

There’s the surprise I felt when I realized how much I liked the cherry beer I drank in Brugge five years ago.  Along with the wonder of the many chocolate shops that lined the cobbled streets, all filled with pretty little candies lined up in perfect rows–inside glass cases of course (I think glass cases trigger a Pavlovian-like longing in me now–it happens now even at Starbucks).

I won’t forget how curious I felt eating crawdads on a picnic table outside our neighbor’s house when we lived in New Orleans, partly because it was so different and partly because I couldn’t quite figure out if I liked eating those little critters or not.

And of course there’s the food we remember simply because we are with those we love.

 baby food face nostalgia _opt

 

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

~ M.F.K. Fisher (The Art of Eating)

 

What is your favorite food memory?

 

First Campaign Challenge: The Door Swung Open

 

Today marks the first day in Rachael Harrie’s platform building campaign!

Here is challenge #1:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: “the door swung shut.” (also included in the word count)

So basically it’s the writer’s version of Top Chef‘s Quickfire Challenge, and since tomorrow is the first day of school here, my head has been filled with the pictures we’ve taken of our kids every year on the first day.  It kind of turned into my theme as I wrote my challenge piece.

Here’s my poem:

 

THE TIME MACHINE

The door swung open,
pushed wide by eager, chubby fingers.

They tumbled out, carrying backpacks
and smiles pressed into rounded cheeks.

Her hand rested briefly on their soft heads,
before lifting into a wave, sand falling away from her fingers.

She watched them go, the sun flickering white and gold through the trees as they disappeared around the corner.
With a deep breath, she filled her lungs with their lingering laughter and milky whispers.

She blinked.

When her eyes opened, she saw them walking back,
a longer stride, arms swinging more purposeful like the hands on a clock.

She looked up at them, the lights in her eyes reflecting on their angles,
until she saw the glimmer of what was before.
Then the door swung shut.