Tuesday, May 12, 2009

memory lane


Maybe it was Mother's Day, maybe it was something my Aunt Dinah wrote yesterday, but I've been thinking of my grandmother all day today. There are a lot of directions my brain can go in when I get her stuck in my head, and today was no exception. Sometimes I think about the road trips from Michigan to Alabama, journeys that I'm convinced helped turn me into the road trip junkie that I am to this day. Then again there's the card games. My grandparents were voracious card players, and I was tossing my coins into the poker pot from a pretty young age. Sitting on my screened in back porch cradling a cold beer makes me think of her, too. I spent a lot of my youth hanging out on a front or back porch with them, although my drink of choice in those days was a bottle of Coke instead of the strong stuff.


She used to say that everything bad that happened to me happened when she was taking care of me. There was the fishing hook stuck in my hand, the time I fell out of a car when it rounded a corner right by my dad's store, and, in an amazing predictor of my future coordination, the time I got my head stuck when I hit the power window button as my head was hanging out the car window. She was a worrywart to begin with, but I think I made it a lot worse. Scratch that. I know I made it a lot worse.


But inevitably I go back to the food. Oh my god could my grandmother cook. Biscuits and gravy every morning for breakfast. Fried chicken. Homemade onion rings. Something she called skillet toast which I ate by the plateful. She did a banana pudding that could make you cry. And every time I would go to visit she would make my very favorite thing - a marinated broccoli and dill salad that gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. She gave me the recipe before she died, and I've made it a few times, but somehow it just doesn't taste the same. I'm a pretty decent cook, but for some reason I have no luck cooking anything that I associate with her. It always tastes just the slightest bit off.


But tonight I was grilling burgers and roasting potatoes. Corn was cooking on the stove, and almost without thinking I started making a cucumber and onion refrigerator pickle that she often had in the fridge. I used to eat it until I felt queasy. Just the process of slicing the veggies and putting it all together in the bowl made me feel like she was right there with me. And when Sasquatch came in and attacked the bowl I had to smile. I told him - like she had told me - that they needed to sit for a while before we ate them. And - like me years ago - he kept eating them anyway, telling me they tasted just fine the way they were.


In her own words, that would have tickled her to death.

14 comments:

Altaglow said...

Yes, it would have.

She would have loved the chance, and time, to feed the boys more of what she did so remarkably well.

Thanks, Mama, for all the memories.

Rudee said...

Food legacies are the best, aren't they?

Maggie May said...

Food can conjure up all sorts of memories, RC. Smells as well. Maybe the two are associated, the smell of cooking and then the taste!

It's good to reminisce. Especially about our grannies!

Thumbelina said...

That made me all goose bumpy.

I miss my grandma too. :)

Frances said...

I enjoyed this post so much, R C, I had to read it agains straight off.
The way preparing food takes us back to memories and gives us a direct line through the family is lovely.
Thanks for writing it for us and sharing your grandmother a little

Katy said...

What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. You write so well...

The Gossamer Woman said...

Count yourself lucky that you have such fond memories of your grandmother. She sounds like she was a fun person for you to hang around with. WE aren't all so lucky. Some of us get very stuffy ones.

Daryl said...

What wonderful memories .. how nice of you to share .. made me think back on my own Grandma(s) ...

Devon said...

It is amazing how we remember the foods from our favorite relatives!

My grandma made awesome mayonaise cake with a peanutbutter frosting. My sister made it for my birthday on Sunday! Not exactly like grandma's, but pretty fantastic! Trust me, it is better than it sounds!

Akelamalu said...

One of my grannies (Dad's Mum) was a fantastic cook - could make a meal out of a dishcloth, everyone said. The other granny's cooking was mediocre. I like to think I take after Dad's Mum, at least everyone says I do. :)

Tians.sis said...

Thanks for the memories.

Mimi said...

That's so sweet, amazing how things are handed down seamlessly from one generation to another! And she was right beside you as you made it. mimi

Southern Drawl said...

Grandmother's are awesome :)

Pamela said...

my husband has memories like that with his gram.

three of my four grands were gone by the time I was in this world. And the one that was here, wasn't really.
I missed out.

Enjoyed your post. envied you.