Tuesday, a friend excitedly told me she was cooking Thanksgiving dinner for her three adult children. “None of that store bought stuffing you add water to,” she said. “My sons expect the homemade stuffing I made when they were kids.”
For most of us, the food we grew up with evokes memories. If they are pleasant, they are food memories we are fond to gratefully dwell on, especially at Thanksgiving.
One nephew was up this morning at 6 am making pies for his own young family, just as his mother taught him when he was little. He’ll also make homemade noodles to accompany their Thanksgiving meal. Homemade noodles have been part of his Thanksgiving since his paternal grandmother first made them for her son long ago.
My own mother has been gone now almost 10 years. And so it’s been many years since I last savored her homemade turkey dressing. Still I relish those tastes most profoundly in my recollected memories, my mouth almost watering from those well-remembered flavors and aromas.
Food memories are personal. Not the sum of their parts, each its own summation. The plate of food is a metaphoric embrace. It becomes sentient through our recollected associations. We remember a maternal smile, a comforting welcome and the embrace of home and family like no other.
Many years ago, a college friend invited me to his parents’ home for dinner. Homesick for his mother’s cooking, he regaled me all semester about it, raising out of all proportion my own bar of delectably delightful expectation.
So great are our joys in food memories, the taste is often incidental. What matters instead is the timeless love the memory embodies. For my college friend that night at dinner, his mother’s meal was among the most delicious – – – just as he’d remembered it. And as for myself, I was only glad it was his food memory and not mine.