Sunday, December 12, 2010

Food Memories

Christmas cookies from a couple years ago
I've been so focused on this semester that I haven't posted since before school started.  But the semester is coming to a close, so it's the perfect time to get my blog moving again!  Hopefully since I won't have a class blog to keep up with next semester, I'll be able to keep up with this one again.  Because I've really missed writing it. And in a lot of ways, starting this blog back up at this time of the year is kinda perfect.  There are so many culinary traditions that play into the holidays, no matter what we believe, so it's a pretty damn good time to highlight culinary traditions.  

Coffee from Intelligentsia. Because coffee is food too!
I don't necessarily believe in Christmas or adhere to any particular religion, but I really do love a lot of the traditions at this time of the year, both culinary and otherwise.  It's a time of the year (the only time of the year, in fact) where I get to see almost all of my family members, both near and far, and there's something beautiful about that, especially in seeing people I only get to see or talk to once or twice a year.  I also love a lot of the music.  As a kid, I sang with the Chicago Children's Choir, so I know pretty much EVERY Christmas carol known to man, from those I actually think are pretty to those that get stuck in my head for days, and not in a good way (Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas carol, for example).

Glace from Berthillion, Paris.

Now I know you're sitting there going "really, Kate, what does this have to do with food? This is a food blog!"  and it is, so here we go.  To me, a lot of the best foods are foods that are pretty deeply set into my memory.   And this doesn't just apply to Chirstmas or Thanksgiving, but they're good places to start, Especially given my love for pie. And cookies. And sugary cereal. and. . .and. . . and. . . You get the point.  I'm going to get into special posts on Cookies and pies, I hope, but for now, I'm just giving a list of foods that are special to me, foods that (in the spirit of Thanksgiving) I'm thankful for.   All of these are not only delicious, but have extra special memories associated with them.  So here's a quickie--My memories in food.

  • Gingerbread men--I'm picky about gingerbread cookies, but one of my best memories is decorating gingerbread men with my family.  There would be frosting everywhere, candies and sprinkles all over the place, and Kieran and I completely sugar high, stained with colored sugar, and laughing our asses off.  
  • Mom's Christmas stollen. Most families I know who celebrate Christmas have special dinner traditions.  Ours vary. We've had turkey, fish, duck, goose, ham, and roast beef (my personal favorite).  Our tradition comes in at breakfast, when mom makes stollen every year. It is delicious, a rich bread filled with candied fruit peels, covered in a fantastic lemon glaze. It's absolutely impossible to eat jsut one slice.   Perhaps this year I'll watch her make it and do a post of it. . . If that's ok, of course.
  • Dad's salmon noodles.  This is not holiday related. This is not even special occasion related, necessarily. My dad makes a dish that's got spinach noodles in a salmon and cream sauce and it's just magic. And great for breakfast the next morning too!  This may be my ultimate comfort food (which, of course, I don't have the recipe for, so I need to wait till we're in the same town to eat and be comforted)
  • Super rare roast beef on an onion roll from Manny's Deli in Chicago.  We used to go here sometimes on Saturdays, after my choir rehearsals and before my sister's orchestra rehearsals.  It was the perfect way to wind down after rough days, and seems to be where we've had a lot of our more serious talks.  Of course even when Kieran and I split sandwiches, we each had our own potato pancake.  Manny's has good potato pancakes. And good pecan pie.  Which brings me to the next one!
  • Pie.   It doesn't matter what kind of pie (except for banana cream or coconut cream, which are weird), pie always makes me happy.  We have different pies at different holidays in our family, and they always change.  This year at Thanksgiving, there was pecan pie and a pear tart.  We always end up doing a mincemeat pie on one of the holidays (it's mom's favorite)  and there's generally an apple pie somewhere in there.   Strangely enough, pumpkin pie, perhaps the most traditional for a lot of people, isn't a mainstay at our holiday dinners.  I'm good with that.  I also do cherry pie and peach pie when I have 4th of July bbq's.  I guess I'm making my own tradition there. . . Traditionally for my family, it was strawberry rhubarb.  Once, at the 4th of July picnic (held on the 3rd in Chicago), while waiting for the fireworks to start, I stepped in the pie.  My family just LOVES to tell that story. 
  • Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice-  Ok, a later memory for sure, but a good one.  The Spicy Tuna on crispy rice at Katsu-ya was my fist taste of LA sushi (which is totally different than Chicago sushi) and I was hooked!  Of course, there are a bazillion things there, and at other LA places that I have grown to love, but that single bite is my first LA sushi, and perhaps the most memorable. 
  • Hot bread while walking down the street with Dad and Kieran in Paris.  That first baguette we had, still warm from the oven, probably lasted all of 30 seconds.  It was the first of about 20 baguettes we ate in 2 weeks, and it was magical. 
The aforementioned baguette
That's my list for starters. . . Of course there are about a million other little food memories I have, but those are big ones that kinda sneak back up on me in the forms of cravings.  I'm sitting here craving that salmon pasta right now.  Dad, Can I get that recipe?

Classic apple pie
If you have a favorite, most special food memory, please leave it in the comments section below (or in my e-mail if that's more comfortable for you).  I'd love to try and make/try/go out and experience some memories that aren't my own.