Food, Glorious Food

posted by Momo Fali on June 13, 2012

In the seventh grade, I was in a stage production of Oliver! I acted in the bar scene, where I pumped a beer stein back and forth while singing, “Oom Pa Pa” with an ensemble. That is where they put you when you can’t sing; they make you be part of a group and pretend you’re drunk.

An added bonus? I played a boy. This should not be a surprise, because I was a 5′ 9″ twelve year old. I filled in whenever height was necessary. Need a fifth person for a pick-up game? Ask Momo! Even if she just stands there, we’ll have enough for a team!

I suppose you could say that Oliver! is where my food career started. “Please sir, may I have some more?” Also, my beer career. Though I gave up knickers, knee socks and vests long ago, the rest of my stage debut stuck. Right to my thighs.

Last weekend, while in Seattle for the BlogHer Food Conference, I heard over and over how food is part of who we are and the stories we tell. Through pain, laughter, anger and joy, food is always there. No matter where we go and what we do, it is a constant presence in our lives. Again, just ask my thighs.

You can’t have a party without food; you can’t have a wake either. What is a movie without popcorn, a baseball game without peanuts, a wedding without a cake or a cookout without potato salad? It’s just a boring, old, regular day, that’s what.

For instance, I can’t think of my grandma without smelling her spaghetti sauce. Though, it was never accompanied by spaghetti, always rigatoni, and she called the noodles “sewer pipes.” That’s right. Sewer pipes. Mmm.

That food memory is, hands-down, my favorite. Though, there are so many others. So. Very. Many. Picking mulberries fresh from the tree is right up there, as was watching my mom prepare the food for my sister’s wedding reception.

There are bad ones too; like when my cousins would make me eat a spoonful of peanut butter, relish and cocoa powder in a game of Spoons-Meets-Truth-or-Dare. *shudder*

Now I eat things like tofu which, apparently, makes other people shudder.

Whether your food memories make you queasy or make you smile, I want to know what they are. Tell me, boys and girls, what food takes you back to a place and time, and why? What is the single culinary delight, kitchen accessory or truth-or-dare moment that never fails to stir something in you? Let’s sit awhile and listen to each others’ stories.

I’ll bring the beer stein.


  • Melisa

    I’ve blogged about this before, but whenever I see pigs in blankets (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls) I think of my 4th or 5th birthday party, where one of my party guests threw hers up all over my birthday table.

    You’re welcome.

  • Melisa

    P.S. I’m waving to BusyDad since you tagged us in the same sentence.

    *waving to Jim, madly so he can see me*

  • Mel

    Sunday dinner when I was growing up! My Grandmother’s homemade chicken and dumplings. Yes, she called them dumplings instead of noodles. They were too big and thick to be a noodle! Rolling out the egg, butter, flour laden goodness, Grandma would always let me eat the scraps. Or we would roll the scraps flat and put butter, sugar and cinnamon on it and bake to golden goodness! With dinner there was always mashed potatoes.(of course!) The dessert was homemade cream pie with a meringue topping! Forget WW I think I will make this for dinner.

  • Gerri

    My Favorite memory is my grandmother’s house. She had like 10 cookie jars in her kitchen, all lined up and with different cookies. Her kitchen smelled like cinnamon.

    Spoon truth or dare, when I was eight, a friend dared me to eat a teaspoon of prepared horesradish. Of course I had to do it!

  • Amie

    The way you are about food memory is the way I am about scent memory. But since you asked about food, I have one from last night that will surely stick with me: my friend and I were at an Ethiopian restaurant, and the one thing I insisted that we get–and which we both loved–turned out to be made of raw minced beef. Had we known this before we ordered it (or even while eating it), there’s no way in hell we would have eaten it…but it was so good, my friend actually said “this is changing my life with every bite I eat.” Knowing what we now know, we may never be able to eat it again, but we will be able to look fondly back at the night we both unwittingly ingested raw meat.

  • Angie

    A hot cup of Lipton tea with a little milk and sugar was a staple for my Grandma Ivy. I can’t drink a cup without thinking of her. My dad’s meatloaf. My dad made most of our Sunday dinners and meatloaf was on the menu at least once a month. Meatloaf was always served with baked potatoes and lima beans. I make the same meal now. It’s an odd feeling when I make it, heartache that I can’t share it with him, and happiness of all the memories that come with it. And my mom’s potato salad. You know it’s summer when mom starts making potato salad!!

  • Arnebya

    I have two. One is the smell of sweet potatoes baking. They take me back to my aunt’s house at Thanksgiving and a flood of memories: playing hide and go seek and always hiding under the dining room table just as my 2 yr old always hides behind the curtains in our house; being plied with food out the back door as a “taste tester” before dinner was put on the table; her house which seemed so big that had me turning sideways as a teenager just to get through the kitchen.

    The other is not so pleasant: my own dinner table can conjure up memories of my mother forcing me to eat. Whenever one of my children refuses food, I simply let it go as best I can because I’m reminded of the cassette tape she recorded of herself saying “Eat Arnebya. Eat Arnebya. Eat Arnebya.” It was a double-sided tape, 30 minutes each side.

  • pam davis

    Back in the day,when I was in my Twenties, I had planned a “After Church” Sunday breakfast for some friends:
    “Well Dog My Cat,wouldn’t you know that the milk I used in the Scrambled Eggs was “Desperately Sour!”
    Oh Goodness,They tasted horrible & that was sooooo embarrassing!
    Also when I was Kid growing up, every Sunday morning
    my dad would put a RAW egg in a glass of beer & drink it!

  • Missy

    My grandparents used to get me a “Champaigne Cake” each year on my birthday from a local Italian Bakery. It had a gorgeous color and light effervescent taste. I loved it so much that I could have eaten half the dang thing by myself.

  • Zak

    My grandmother always made everything from scratch and she made the best fried chicken in a cast iron skillet. I now have the cast iron skillet but I I can’t make fried chicken to save my life.

  • Tina

    I grew up in Los Angeles with a teenaged mom. Our meals usually consisted of ravioli out of can or fast food. One summer when I was about seven, I went to Tennessee to visit my grandparents who had a suburban house with a large garden. It was there I first really tasted vegetables such as tomatoes picked from the garden, peeled and served at the breakfast table! My grandmother made fried okra, hush puppies and so many more amazing Southern dishes. They remarked about my younger brother and I several times that trip “Have these children ever eaten before? I think because we ate so much and enjoyed absolutely everything! Those summers were magical, of course not just for the food, but for the love it represented.

  • meleah rebeccah

    “what food takes you back to a place and time, and why?”

    Ah yes…. my mother’s mom, my gramma Manga, used to make the most incredible Polpette soup. And when I was about 9 she moved away to Florida. But she managed to mail me her famous Polpette soup via DRY ICE because my mom’s just wasn’t the same!

  • mare ball

    That tofu looks disgusting. Although, I love soy milk. One food memory that sticks w/ me…my dad made all us kids TRY garbanzo beans. I hated them, we all did. I don’t remember him making us try anything else, just garbanzos. The funny thing is…today, i love them. Hummus is my favorite snack. I love all beans. You never know…

  • AlisonH

    My father’s allergic to chocolate. My mom could take it or leave it (I know, I know!) So we had it at Easter and Christmas only.

    The day I turned 12 we went for the first time to a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm, with several other friends’ families coming too. Turned out we were all then going out to dinner together afterwards.

    Only, that part was to be a surprise party for me. Which it definitely was.

    When Dad made the reservations and ordered the cake, they asked him what kind. He said he didn’t care–anything but chocolate.

    And you know the only word they remembered. Chocolate. And when they brought out that cake, that huge serves-three-families cake, the highlight of the surprise…

    Yup. THE most intense chocolate cake chocolate icing chocolate decorations masterpiece you ever dreamed of. LOVED it. (While my dad groused quietly in the background about that’s *not* what he’d ordered!) Remembered it forever, and it’s now a fond family joke.

  • AlisonH

    p.s. And my little sister and I (out of six kids) are total, absolute chocoholics.

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