Let’s face it, food is one of the daily pleasures of life. Just ask your older loved one! If you doubt that, you must not be a fan of the Food Network or Cook. Now who doesn’t like to visit with the Pioneer Woman or Rachel Ray? Chances are your mom or dad still loves to talk about (and of course eat) good food. So why not exploit that passion and make it a family affair? I’m so glad I’ve had grannies and friends who shared their love of food with me.
Food is a great connector. It can cross language barriers and has no trouble connecting diverse ethnic groups; it bridges any generation gap, no matter how big.
My family is no different from most. Our get-togethers almost always involve food. My favorite childhood memories of my grannies usually have something to do with what they cooked for me. I can still see my Granny Mann standing in front of her old Hoosier rolling out biscuits or mixing up hot roll dough. I am so fortunate she took time with me and taught me how to make some of her favorite recipes. And since feeding people always made her happy, it’s a trait that really rubbed off on me.
Now my Daddy’s mama — my Granny Everett — was not a big cook or baker but somehow she always made me feel special when she cooked for me. She’d bake up as many tater tots as I could dunk in ketchup and her fried fruit pies were absolutely delicious. She’d take a tube of what we called “whomp biscuits” out of the fridge to start. Now I know you know what whomp biscuits are. They’re the ones you whomp on the counter to open. She’d roll those little circles of dough out and then pack them with cooked apples or peaches with an added pat of butter. Carefully folding them in half, she made little half moons with crimped edges and then fried them in a skillet. I couldn’t wait until they cooled and often burned my tongue.
Food Leads to Friendship
My food memories aren’t exclusively of my own family. Growing up I had an Italian friend who took me to her own granny’s house where her aunts and uncles, cousins and parents were busy in the kitchen making a traditional fried dough that they sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with homemade strawberry jam. YUM! There was talking and laughing between sips of wine and a dozen kids running in and out the doors. It was delightful chaos. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live.
When I was in high school I met a friend whose mama cooked for a hop ranch. They were originally from Mexico and boy, could they cook! They lived on the ranch and everywhere around Elias’ house were rows and rows of tall poles sticking up from the ground with wires holding the beautiful vines of hop plants.
The kitchen was separate from her small house. It had two huge stoves, a tortilla maker and a dozen picnic benches for the workers to sit at while they ate. On every table was a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce, hot peppers and a container of Alka Seltzer. By the end of my visit, I sure appreciated the Alka Seltzer!
My friend had three sisters and each one of them took turns cooking for me. Delicious burritos and tostadas went down the hatch. I was so stuffed, I begged them to quit so we went into their tiny house where their mama was making blueberry pancakes on a hot plate! Elias parents didn’t speak English but when I walked in it must have been apparent I had eaten too much because her mother took one look at me and started laughing while saying something to her husband who also started to laugh. The pain was worth the taste of their wonderful food and so was the embarrassment. It was another forever memory.
Now that I’m a granny too, I love to teach my grandkids to bake and cook. Their favorite thing to help with is making bread dough, but they’ll settle for anything to help with when I’m in the kitchen. I hope they’ll remember the things I taught them, but more than that I hope they’ll have forever memories of their old foodie granny and how much fun we had in the kitchen.