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  • Betty Girardeau

Food For Memories


How many of us have memories, good and bad, that are associated with food? I would expect that all of us do. Today's image is of some canneles that I made over the week-end. I was first introduced to them when I went to the wonderful Chateau deGudanes in France in 2018. And then I got "hooked" on them the following year when I went back to the Chateau to work as a member of the household team. I even copied the recipe that the wonderful pastry chefs that year used. It is still on my phone and I had forgotten about it until another Facebook friend posted a picture of canneles that he had just baked. As I think about the wonderful memories and connections with friends that are associated with food, it reminds me of a life-time of food-related memories. My Mother who did not like to cook because she would rather clean (huh!?), did make wonderful fried chicken and gravy, and her from scratch pie crusts were the best. I never did figure out how she did it, and still buy Pillsbury piecrust sheets. When I want to bake a really great cake, I know to use my Grandmother's pound cake recipe. And from her mother, my great-grandmother, I have another family favorite dessert called Grape Cream, made with grape juice, heavy cream, and unflavored gelatin. But for even more special family food memories there is Chicken Brissel, my uncles's creation for grilled chicken using lemon juice and lots of butter while slowly cooking chicken over an open grill. That was a standard MUST dinner when we would all gather at the South Carolina log cabin retreat during summer vacations with all the cousins, aunts, and uncles. Along with that had to be Tuckaway Punch, made with pineapple juice, tea, sliced lemons, and Orange Crush soda. Sides were corn on the cob, of course. And for dessert either or both, chilled watermelon slices or homemade fresh peach ice cream made in the old cranked ice cream maker. All wonderful memories of great summers past. In the not so great food memories category are two of my Mother's attempts to try something new that didn't work out well. One was some sort of beef ragout that she had spent hours making, but when served none of us were too thrilled. And as an outspoken small child I even asked my Mother if she had left the rag in the stew too long because it tasted like it. (Out of the mouths of babes!). She spent an equally long day as I recall making the Pillsbury Bake-Off cookie of the year, Cherry Winks. I am not sure I can blame my Mother for that failure, but I do wonder how that cookie won the top prize. However, I can't end this discussion about food memories without sharing one of my mega food failures. I was a young bride still trying to impress my husband with the fact that he had married a consummate cook. We had gone to a food show at which I picked up a few recipes that I thought my new husband would like. He came from the part of South Georgia where peanut growing was a big deal, and one of the recipes I found at the food show was for Peanut Butter Chicken. So, of course, I thought he would love it. But that, at least for that recipe, was a terrible combination. In over 50 years of marriage and many, many new and different dishes that I placed in front of my husband, that one dish went down in our marriage history as the absolute worst. I just looked up Peanut Butter Chicken recipes, and there are lots of them with multi-star reviews, but I will never try them because, even if they might be good, I will always carry the memory of the one that I made for my husband when I was a bride. We often laughed about the memories of that meal as we consumed much better ones. And maybe that is one reason I don't want to try a Peanut Butter Chicken recipe again. Because, both good and bad, food memories should always be honored.

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