In case you missed it, here is the unabridged version of the guest post that I shared with Becky and her readers over at Love Everyday Life.
It’s not that I’m addicted to food or so in love with a bowl of Lucky Charms in the morning. It’s more so that I’m in love with the memories that I’ve accumulated and come to associate with certain foods. Certain seasonings. Certain special flavors that bring me back to a time in my life when I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else than in that very moment, enjoying that very taste, at the exact time.
Let’s start with my earliest memory of my “most favorite food.” How can I recall that it was my most favorite? Because when asked to enter my “Favorite Food” into my fifth grade yearbook, I didn’t give a second thought about my Dad’s homemade Ziti. Just thinking about his homemade red sauce dripping beneath mounds of bubbling mozzarella cheese has my heart yearning for home. I was never allowed to “help” in the kitchen, but I can remember sitting quietly at the kitchen table, watching my father create his masterpiece. You see, my dad never cooks with recipes. He starts with a flavor in mind and runs with it. Because of this ingenious, he’s created some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted. You see, the memories and emotions attached to this simple dish are irreplaceable. Like the time I was 7 and my mom left us at home for the night and I managed to spill an entire bowl of pasta in his lap and we laughed and laughed until milk came shooting out of my nose. I have zillions of memories surrounding the bond between my Daddy and me, but I’ll always be reminded of him when the smell of bold, spicy marinara is in the air. How much I wanted to be like him when I grew up. How much I adored is every move. How he was (and still is!) my hero.
Over the years, my love affair with food only escalated. Forget matters of the heart. It was all about matters of the sweet tooth. It wasn’t until I met my (future) husband that I developed a taste for the finer foods in life, so in the years preceding, I spent a lot of time messing around with a plethora of confectioner lovers. It started with the hundreds of warm, gooey homemade batches of chocolate chip cookies made by my mother. If you happen to take a gander at her forearms, you’ll notice the burn marks from years of pulling tray after tray of unconditional love out of the oven. As a child, I always looked forward to snow days and especially “mental health days,” because I knew they would be chock full of chocolate chip cookies and a mother’s love. I cannot wait until I can share that same confectioner’s love with Carter.
Speaking of cookies, whenever I spot a package of Double Stuf oreos, I can’t help but be transported back to a comfy couch somewhere, be it in our basement at home or the house of one of my best friends. I can almost hear the chick flick playing in the background and the current crush of the day banter being tossed back and forth with ease. Who knew a little cookie and a whole lotta cream could transform a couple of high school friends into partners in crime, eventually into Bridesmaids and really, true soulmates?
Soulmates. When I first met my husband in that dirty, stinky (did I say dirty?) frat house, I often associated him with awful tasting Natural Light beer, floors sticky with the sweat of all night dance parties and a shot of SoCo and lime. The thought of him as a soulmate was as far from my mind as the next day’s hangover. Over the course of my years at Villanova, that would all change. As would my taste for a few of the finer things in life.
I remember our first date. Although I cannot remember the conversation or even the outfit that I wore, I can remember that he ordered the Osso Bucco and I, the mushroom risotto. The creamiest, most delicious mushroom risotto I’ve ever had. Mushroom risotto became a recurring theme in our relationship and at the direction of my (future) husband, I learned to pair it with one delicious wine after another. Who knew the man sitting before me, in khaki pants and a button down, with blonde curls hidden beneath an O’s cap, knew the difference between a Malbech and a Merlot and could distinguish its many different notes with one swirl of the glass? Needless to say, I believe I fell in love over risotto.
There are so many different flavors that I associate with my husband and the nine years we’ve been together, be it the chicken tikka masala that he introduced me to after working his first corporate project with a Senior Manager from Hyderabad, or my first taste of Maryland steamed crab from the deck of a beach house on Ocean City. Now, at even the slightest hint of Old Bay seasoning, I am instantly recalling the summers we spent on the beach, the warm sun at our backs without not so much as a care in the world to burden our relaxed shoulders.
We savored the most delectable Moroccan braised beef at our wedding and washed it down with the most incredible coconut shrimp while honeymooning in Hawaii. Early on, our marriage quickly transformed into one beautiful taste after another as we traveled throughout wine country in California, fingers dripping with true finger lickin’ Texas BBQ. I can still taste the sting of the jerk chicken that we enjoyed almost nightly while vacationing in Turks and Caicos and I will never, ever forget our weekly Friday night Happy Hours, just the two of us, indulging in bowl after bowl of spice-infused oysters and ale at the local German alehouse back when we lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Growing up in a family that loved their food, who carefully and artfully selected their flavors cultivated memories filled with tastes and love that I’m so grateful to have witnessed. Falling in love with my husband only encouraged and emboldened my taste buds and we were lucky to be able to satiate our desire to travel, to fall in love with each other, with places and foods we may have never experienced otherwise.
Who knew one could love food so much? Or rather, love sharing that food with friends, family and loved ones. So, if you ever catch me on the street and I offer you a cookie? I may be telling you a simple, “I love you.”
Happy Weekend, readers! Bear with me these next couple of weeks. Carter and I are off to spend a wonderful two weeks with Gammy and Poppy up North in Hometown, New Jersey. We can't wait to have them all to ourselves for two whole weeks! Don't worry. I'll be sure to re-cap this week's Mom's Night Out with my Stroller Strides mommies. How could I not? Afterall, we did take a pole dancing class... Bow chicka wow wow. . .