Chef Sam de Leoz is hosting Lasang Pinoy 10th Edition! This month we will be reminiscing about our childhood memories of food.
My Childhood Food Memories are more like snapshots rather than a few minutes of film. But I remember them with fondness.
I do have a picture of me beating down dough for bread in my parent’s kitchen in New York City when I was about three years old. So I am not sure if that food memory snapshot derives from that actual photograph or from my conscious memory.
I do remember my lunches around that age. I loved Campbell’s chicken noodle soup which is probably why it was the only thing I could keep down at the beginning of my pregnancy with my twins. I remember lots of scrambled eggs. I remember even more spinach. I often wonder if I ate anything else besides these three things but my mother assures me that I did.
For a few years we lived in Savannah, Georgia when I was in Pre-K to 2nd Grade. There was a lunch stand, Clarey’s, that Dad would take me to for lunch when I was in summer school as I was a bit behind and needed to catch up in order to enter the new private school I was to attend for second grade. Well, we would have the most delicious grilled cheeses, potato chips and vanilla milk shakes. I thought my father was a hero. Amazing. He could eat his grilled cheese so fast. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and hoped one day I could eat as fast as him. Then I remember my mom dying our eggs green for St. Patrick’s Day. I was just amazed. Then mom made a cold cucumber soup and left in the refrigerator too long and it got some weird gel thing on top and mom and dad told me it was a Mother and it had gone bad. I was glad my mom did not look like that. I went to summer camp and had my first Smore. To that point it had been the best thing I had ever tasted in my life. I really was not allowed any sweets so this sugar rush was beyond exciting. That memory actually is more like a filmstrip than a snapshot.
I remember my Granny fly-fishing in Aspen, Colorado. It was so cool. I guess I was about 5. We would ride horses up into the mountains and stay at this amazing camp where they had teepees. Then one of the guys that worked at the camp would cook the freshly caught trout up in pans over the open fire. I was as dirty and messy as could be and so happy.
For a few years we lived with my Granny in New York City. I was in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Granny used to make me these little frenched lamb chops in a small le creuset skillet. I would sit at this little table in the kitchen and eat my supper while she finished up dinner for the rest of the family ie. the adults. My mom would make little pork chops for me the same way.This is where my repertoire of eggs expanded from scrambled eggs to soft boiled eggs. Granny had the prettiest china egg cups and a fabulous egg shell topper to snip off the top. My Dad, the one with the sweet tooth, would make these AWESOME milk shakes. Haggandaz vanilla ice cream, honey, eggs, and banana. Can we say pure heaven! And I was sitting right there at my little table hoping Dad would give me as big of a glass as his.
But one of the most of important things during this period was that I began to cook. Well experiment is more like it. Someone bought me a Sunset cookbook for kids. I wish I still had it. Well they had a Little Doggy Fruit Salad recipe. I made that a couple of times. You used half a canned pear as the dog’s head in profile. I think a prune was the ear and maybe a maraschino cherry was the nose and a raisin was the eye. The other thing was a take on a Baked Alaska. You used a round frozen waffle. Scooped ice cream on top. Placed mini marshmallows all over the ice cream scoop and then broil for a little bit to brown the marshmallows. This amazed me because ice cream went into the oven! I also made a mystery soufflé. It was sort of a soufflé but it was definitely not meant to be eaten. It was dark dark green. I put just about everything in the kitchen into it. No one, not even me, tried it.
My friend Vicky and I would make meringues all the time at her house. All the time. We were experts. Fluffy. Crisp on the outside and just slightly chewy in the center. Never browned. Perfect. Experts I tell you. To this day I have had many a native French cook tell me that my meringues are perfect. To us, it was pure, unadulterated sugar.
Speaking of unadultared sugar rush. My best friend then and still to this day, Jane, and I hid in my Granny's walk in closet and hid amongst her velvet and brocade gowns. We were hiding because we had taken the plain granulated sugar, the powdered sugar and the brown sugar along with two spoons to decide what was the tastiest. Of course brown sugar won hands down. Jane and I still talk about this afternoon. It is the memory of our time in third grade that we both share.
Then my Granny passed away at the start of 5th grade. It was a terrible thing that happened to our family. She had been very sick for a long time but it was still awful. Then in the Spring, my mom threw her back out after pulling way too many ferns and with the added stress she could not move for a very long time. So, I made her eggs. Of course Dad made food for all of us. But, I felt very strongly that I had to help my mom too. And I made eggs. I would read the directions in the Joy of Cooking. Perhaps, most people would think I was too young to be left in a kitchen over a hot stove by myself and maybe I actually was. But, I knew that I needed to be careful and I was. I remember that clearly. I made scrambled to start then moved onto soft-boiled. Then I started to bake them in a little pyrex ramekin. I remember finding that in the Joy of Cooking and thought it was so cool because I had never had that kind of egg so I was making something new!
I was bitten by the food and cooking bug early. That bug has never left me. And I hope and am sure it never will.
Buhay Cocinero: ANNOUNCEMENT: Food Memories From Childhood