Does it bother anyone else that produce rarely has dirt on it? Just curious. As I was wandering through the food store and afterward when putting my food away, I started thinking about the role that food has played in my life. A lot of people relate foods with memories and most Americans have whole holidays that center for the most part around food and food customs. My life is no different. However, I think the difference comes in the memories and the foods that were introduced to me. I remember very distinctly never really playing with babydolls. However, I remember vividly the Christmas that my grandparents gave me a tin toy refrigerator. Prior to that I remember having an oven with cooktop in my room plus an awesome Strawberry Shortcake table and chair set. My mom even made cupboards out of shoeboxes covered in wallpaper. It was awesome! I also love that my grandmother never shooed me out of the kitchen. I would pull pots and pans out of the cabinet and “pretend” to make things on the floor right under her feet. I would get lucky sometimes and get the scraps from her fresh made biscuits, so that I could “make” my own. I also distinctly remember that she always made her own meringue. I never really wanted it and usually called it “fuzz” but I surely ate the chocolate pie that was underneath it. Now I can truly appreciate the height and perfection of that handmade meringue. My grandmother wasn’t the only one with food memories attached. My grandfather had a quite large garden in their backyard. That was where I first learned what a turnip looked like as it grew, as well as grapes, tomatoes, scuppernongs, corn, watermelon, and cucumbers, among other things. We would go for a ride on his riding lawn mower and then be rewarded by a raw turnip right out of the garden that he would cut with his pocket knife. Little did I know then the love and attention that went into that garden. He successfully made jams and jellies and canned a number of foods, in addition to making wine. He also would take my brother and I to strawberry fields to pick strawberries. Sadly, I probably ate more than I picked, but I knew what a strawberry plant and a strawberry looked like when they were growing.
This is where my mom comes in. Growing up it was so rare that we ate out or purchased fast food. She always had dinner ready even after a full day of work. She too carried on the traditions of her parents of canning just about anything she could get her hands on. I remember being shocked by a funny looking and weird smelling bottle in the cupboard. I soon learned that this was sourdough starter that she had gotten from a friend at work. She would take my brother and I to a friend’s farm where we helped to pick all sorts of vegetables and I experienced my first sunflower patch. She would go with us over to my grandparents house where there would be bushels of beans, peas or corn that we would shuck, snap, or shell. These would then be put away for winter. My grandparents had three refrigerators and a huge chest freezer! But they also rarely ate out as well. My mom would take us to the farmers market in a distant town which was always an experience. The highlight would be when we got to pick out a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. We would drive or walk from booth to booth so my mom could browse the goods and then buy from the farmer with the best price for the best produce.
I am beginning to appreciate the memories and love for food that my mom and grandparents held. As well as the care and attention that they gave to the land that produced their foods. I could not have asked for a better family to raise me and wish that they could know how important their knowledge and memories are to me (even outside of food). I want to learn how to can vegetables and make jams and jellies. I think that people have forgotten these important labors of love and rely on the processed foods that they can easily get from the store. I am certainly guilty of that myself. I told J today that I want to get us to the point where we are only buying things from the store that we cannot make or grow. I think that you appreciate your food more then, I know I do. I may have grown up in a small rural community, but I wouldn’t trade it for living anywhere else, now looking back on it.