For me food is entwined so tightly with memories and associations with people that there are certain foods that just call to mind specific loved ones and specific events from my life. For instance, I will forever associate pork barbeque and peach ice cream with summers in North Carolina. Pig roasts are an annual 4th of July tradition in my family, and it is always followed by homemade peach ice cream, courtesy of my very talented uncle.
In much the same way, bowls of dried fruit and nuts set out for guests calls to mind my grandmother's house. Her coffee table was laden with fresh fruit, candies, dried fruit, and nuts of every variety, always welcoming guests to be at home.
Homemade candies and holiday treats hint of my mother and Christmas time. And how every year the house is turned into Wonka's sweetshop as we make caramels and chocolates and cookies for loved ones. Always wrapped in pretty tins and always made with infinite love, and with great patience (a trait I only seem to have much of while in the kitchen).
And there are too many foods to list that call to mind my father. Black coffee so strong that it could stand on it's own without a mug, chocolate, plum tomatoes, and apples straight from the tree are a few that come to mind most easily. It was with him that I spent hours in the kitchen, learning to hold a knife safely, and throwing things from the pantry in one big pot to see how it came out.
There are other people, other memories. Peanut butter reminds me of my sister and the glue-your-mouth-shut sandwiches she used to make as afternoon snacks for us. And I inexplicably think of my best friend when I eat strawberries. Homemade soups wrap around me like a hug from my guy, warm and comforting and feeling like home. Indian speaks of sophomore year, spring semester and mischief; Mexican of outtings with my sisters and a lot of laughter.
Some people keep photos of their adventures to remind them. For every memory, every person to touch my life, there is food to remind me. Should I write a cookbook, I think it will read more like a scrapbook. Pictures of people and places tucked alongside ingredients and cooking times. And I wonder whether certain foods bring others images and memories of me. In their recipe scrapbooks, what foods would have my picture next to them?