Foods have an intrinsic, powerful ability to take us to a specific time and place- a flavor nostalgia of sorts. The smell of yeast bread- no matter how many I’ve made or tasted since- will forever drop me right into my Maman’s kitchen.
A slow-cooked beef shoulder roasted in its own juices with starchy potatoes, carrots and yellow onions- so tender it doesn’t even demand a knife- will always be Sunday ‘dinner’ in my mind. Sundays were one of the many constants in my childhood. My father was- and is- a pastor; and a roast was my Maman’s perfect solution for having a large noon meal ready when we were away all morning.
There will never be a chocolate cake that is too large or too rich. I’m fairly certain I must have somehow been nursed on chocolate milk as an infant. I haven’t discussed that theory with my parents yet, but there could be no other logical explanation.
And one sip of a classic root beer float sits me in a small Pensacola kitchen with my two older sisters. My Grandma’s across-the-street neighbor was a tiny, Southern lady every bit as sweet as the floats she would dish up on any given hot Florida day. It was many years later before I even knew her real name- she was ‘the float lady’ to us. I remember her house was made of stucco- a new word in my six-year-old vocabulary, her colossal oak trees were even older than she was, and she made the best root beer floats I would ever taste.
The Hoback Hefeweizen at Snake River Brewing Company in Jackson, Wyoming was the single drink that convinced me- well into my twenties- that I actually did like beer. Good beer, that is. And I can’t drink one without feeling the satisfaction of a day well spent backpacking in the stunning Tetons.
A coffee bar at a college sorority mixer party began my love affair with fine coffees: an affair that has persisted through various hospital coffee carts, local study hideouts and charming outdoor Italian cafes.
I’m all set to test out a few new recipes this weekend. And every day of school is flooding new entries into my memory bank of all things flavor. I can’t help but wonder how each will shape the taste nostalgia of many tomorrows. Sweet, sweet life. Cheers-