Cooking · Life & Family

Remembering My Mom Through Food

I think about my mom a lot, sometimes I imagine the conversations we would have about whatever’s going on in my life. I’m lucky in that while memories hurt, I enjoy thinking about her. I still like to poke fun at her, to be honest.

A lot of memories associated with my mom center on food. Dinners growing up, holidays, special occasions – and the random gourmet level recipes she made with my brother. But even more than that there are specific dishes that are tied so tightly to her in my memory that even considering making them makes me feel closer to her.

She made a specific potato salad – one with Russian dressing – that wasn’t in the recipe box I got after her death. I found a close-enough version online and while it needs some tweaks, it immediately made me fall into a well of (happy) memories. “Brown Rice” aka stick of butter rice that would be fought over by everyone. It was the best side to another Mom memory – soy sauce marinaded flank steak with horseradish.

I’m realizing that the rest of these are pretty standard family holiday foods – mashed potatoes with “too much” garlic, green bean casserole, crescent rolls from a can, specific types of cookies, fudge, etc. The sight of a little dish with tiny gherkins and both green and black olives. There have to be both types of olives, it’s the law. Even the process of canning or making fresh pasta makes me think of my mom. I want to learn to can things because my mom did and I want to share that with her.

She also passed down an interest in grocery stores in other places. I think it comes from growing up/living in a small town – we had to drive 2 hours away to get a lot of the ingredients my mom and brother needed. Standing in a fancy grocery store buying things that my childhood home’s stores would have never carried is imprinted in my mind. And getting the mini coffee at Fresh Market feeling very grown up.

We went to New Orleans once, just the two of us, and we hit up the grocery stores as soon as we could. Regional differences in food and the way grocery store are made are a real thing. Shane has indulged my need to check out grocery stores in the cities we visit for years now.

There were so many long, loud dinners and those memories really carry me through some of my worst times.

Sorry if this is rambling and doesn’t make much sense. I just wanted to get this “down on paper”.

Sarah

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