Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Food and Memory

I feel the same way about produce as this girl

I remember a while back, my friend Heidi showing me an article by Andrew Knowlton, aka "the hot guy from Bon Appetit magazine". This was my introduction to the man known as The Foodist.

In perusing one of the lucky 25-cent magazines I scored from the library, I saw a Foodist column in which he posed a thought-provoking question: What is your first food memory? (His was Halloween candy, by the way.)

The question got me reflecting on my own earliest edible memories. While food played an influential role in my life, it took me a while to sort through all of the memories. I find it increasingly hard to pinpoint specific time frames in the expansive, mostly unstructured pool of memories that constitutes My Childhood.

I came up with two experiences, although I couldn't tell which one came first, but both occurred while my parents I lived in a tiny rented house built in the 1940's.

The first is more like a series of experiences that have merged into one collective memory. It is cold, dark, early in the morning, wintertime. My father and I huddle in front of the wall-mounted space heater eating the same breakfast every day: Cheerios with milk, topped with either canned applesauce, or browning bananas that were seemingly always overripe. Strange - to this day I still dislike all of those foods, individually but especially collectively.

The second memory occurred in the summertime. I am sitting on a couch bathed in golden sunlight, with freshly picked apricots from the tree in our backyard. I am engaged in the process of learning how to twist the two halves apart and pick out the brown pit, then sink my teeth into the blissfully sweet flesh. The contrast of these two memories perhaps proved prophetic: to this day, I still prefer the weather and food of summer.

What's your earliest food memory?


  1. Interesting to think about. I love Cheerios with bananas! The earliest food memories I can think of is making homemade ice cream with my family. That was a fun one. The bad one was my mom making me taste a raw tomato. It made me gag. I still don't like raw tomatoes, but love them cooked in sauces.

  2. the second is a great memory. not sure if this is the earliest, but i'll never forget the time my older sister gave me a piece of chicken, telling me it was the best piece...only to find out it was the tail or butt or something like that. i cried for hours.

  3. My first food memory is kinda weird. But I love the concept:)

  4. I love this question---It was used as a prompt in a food writing workshop I participated in. It's best to say what comes to mind first---in my case, it was Ginger Ale! It triggered a more complete memory of my mom taking care of me when I was sick--and a glass of Ginger Ale she would bring me always made me feel better.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!