With the holidays looming--a time in which we consume a lot, probably more than we need--I thought it timely to discuss the intriguing topic. But what kind? Here are my food memories.
When I was a child, my father worked for the Continental Baking Company, makers of Wonder Bread, so that was our bread of choice. They also made Hostess cupcakes, chocolate Ding Dongs and Twinkies. The original Twinkies had a banana-flavored filling, but don’t anymore. The health food fad hadn’t started yet so no one knew that white bread and sweet snacks were bad for you.
My favorite sandwich was thinly-sliced boiled ham and sliced sweet pickles on white bread. A close second was peanut butter and grape jelly. Third was tuna salad, made with canned tuna, chopped celery and Hellman’s mayonnaise. (Later I learned to put water chestnuts and a little curry powder in it.) And who doesn’t like tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches?
My grandfather (father’s side) emigrated from England, so we often had a leg of lamb for Sunday dinner. We enjoyed roast chicken too, but never steak. I used to wonder why people preferred steak to a meal of lamb or chicken. Or even roast pork with scalloped potatoes. When we had beef, it was usually ground and a favorite meal was ground beef crumbled in gravy over mashed potatoes. My maternal grandmother made home-made egg noodles and sliced them very thin to go into her home-made chicken soup.
An aunt of mine married an Italian man and went to Italy on her honeymoon. In fact, they stayed two years and my aunt learned to make real Italian spaghetti sauce. Everyone wanted to go to their house during the holidays for antipasto and spaghetti.
Turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and yams, appeared at every Thanksgiving dinner, sometimes Christmas. Although ham with brown sugar and pineapple sometimes took its place for Christmas dinner, along with sweet potatoes topped with plump lightly-browned marshmallows.
Dessert for the holidays was pumpkin pie and fruitcake, and I learned to make a fabulous fruitcake that friends often asked for. Recently, even my popular pumpkin pie has been overshadowed by my Pecan Pumpkin Pie, which is baked “upside down” with the filling on the bottom and the crust--made of yellow cake mix, chopped pecans and half a pound of melted butter--on top. Picture a narrow slice of that, with the crust now on the bottom, topped with fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Divine.
Well, I’ve made myself hungry so it must be time to stop and post this. Dinner tonight is tuna casserole. That’s a standard too.