Food. Wondrous, glorious, food. It is one of our life sources, and one of our greatest pleasures. I associate certain foods with certain people, places, and feelings. Here is a short journey about my life with food.
In the pink house, where the people I loved the most during my childhood, all lived under one roof, and where we lived across the street from Grant Elementary School, the whole playground our front yard, in that house, I learned to love popcorn.
My mother would make popcorn, pouring the kernels along with the oil into the popper. She would make batch after batch. She would pour it from the popper with its plastic top into a brown paper grocery bag, and then melt butter. One of us would shake the bag while she poured the warm butter over the popped kernels in the open bag. Then we would shake the bag some more while she added salt. She would place the bag on a cookie sheet so the butter wouldn’t seep through to the floor, and then she would take out six bowls, one for each of us. We scooped bowl after bowl of the white, salty, buttery treat from the bag. Occasionally a batch would burn and the house would smell like burnt oil and charred kernels.
Apples. We often had apples from one of our trees to go with the popcorn. My mom or dad would cut them into slivers. Not one of us cared if popcorn and apples took the place of dinner. The television was almost always on, we watched shows like Sonny and Cher and Hee Haw.
It was the seventies, and parents all across the country were ending their marriages.
In the green house, where we lived without my dad, we discovered TV dinners, chicken pot pies, and canned tamales. I don’t eat any of those today. I don’t like them, and they bring me no fond memories or comfort.
In the blue and white house, with my first husband, the two of us ate tacos, roast, Cornish game hens, and venison. I don’t cook or eat any of that now. I am mostly (I occasionally eat tuna or bacon) a vegetarian. I am concerned about animal treatment and the planet.
Where I live now, in my current home with my husband, we eat dinner together, just the two of us, most nights. He brings me great comfort by making me popcorn and sliced apples. We have a ritual of having milk and cookies before bed.
If one of us dies before the other, I can see us well into our old age, asking someone, anyone, to bring the survivor milk and cookies before sleep. I know I will carry the comfort of this treat with me until it is time to put my head down on the pillow for the very last time. Sharing milk and cookies with my husband seems like a simple thing, but it is emotionally comforting in a way that ends the day with closeness, a shared delight; a forbidden treat from childhood that is now ours for the taking. I am always excited about bedtime.