Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What the Heck are my Favorite Foods Anyway?

A close friend of mine asked me the other day "if you had all the time and the money in the world, what would you cook?" My eyes just got really wide as I considered my options... and my mind went blank for a second or two. No response to this question could possibly sum up what I wanted to say. Granted, I had been asked this question before, but for some reason this time I wanted to give a good answer, the absolute truth answer. I wanted to take the time to actually figure out what my favorite foods were to cook. And thus began a trail of thoughts that have now spilled out onto a blog post.

Millions of recipes soon flooded my head when I was asked this question, along with snippits of fond memories I have collected over the years: of dog-eared cookbooks and standing at the counter with Mommaw;age three with flour all over my hands, spilling more down the front of me than I had in the bowl; the first time I grilled pizza on the grill and thought (and still do think) it's the best thing since sliced bread; the fact that Boppaw is the only one in our family that can make peanut brittle the "right" way... Hundreds of memories are so strongly attached to my fond connection with food. So how can I possibly pick my favorites?

But why separate the memories from the foods? That's usually what makes them so delicious! So I started honing in my favorite food memories and low-and-behold my favorite foods were nestled in there as well. Here are just a few:

  • Grilling whole wheat pizza dough with my Dad, brushing it with homemade garlic oil and spooning on fresh chunky tomato sauce, piling on toppings, and topping it all with fresh buffalo mozzarella.
  • Every dish of my family's Thanksgiving dinner (which Mommaw and I have made together for as long as I can remember) and eating Pumpkin Pie for breakfast. (see here for more on this memory.)
  • The first time I ever encountered an avocado: my dad ordered a salad with avocado and he didn't like them so he gave them to me to try - oh the wretched face I made! (I still hate avocados, but the memory is nice.)
  • The first farmers markets of the spring growing season, when I can't wait to just go and browse the tables upon tables of tender baby greens, sweet peas, early sweet corn, and berries. 
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream on a cone and walking on the beach almost every night while on our yearly childhood family vacation to Myrtle Beach.
  • The dinner that had a profound influence on my career of choice. It was a birthday dinner of mine probably five or six years ago now, where I felt adventurous and ordered Monkfish with a parmesan sweet pea risotto. Not only did I fall in love with seafood that night, but also the beauty and wholesomeness woven into every piece of a well executed dish, and decided that I too would learn to do these awe-inspiring things with food.
  • My first taste of Champaign while on a cruise ship in Alaska. There is photographic evidence of what I thought about that encounter.
  • Picking blackberries at my grandparent's home, and always walking out of the briers with half as many as everyone else - and stained fingertips so I couldn't even hide the evidence of my "one for the bucket, one for me" motto.
  • Mom and I making cookie trays filled with dozens of our homemade Christmas cookies that we start baking the day after Thanksgiving in a marathon month of flour, butter, and sugar for our family, neighbors, friends, clients, contractors, roommates, annual Christmas party, and of course a couple to to keep at home.
So there you go, a little trip down my memory lane. Hopefully this encourages you to think about your favorite  foods as well, so when someone asks you, you'll be ready. 

Shelby, my younger sister, and I. Obviously she is in almost all of my fondest memories so I thought I would include this picture in my post.


  1. What a lovely post! My favorite food memory is my momma teaching me to make home-made dumplings: how to flatten the dough and put just enough filling inside and pinching it together.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm glad you love seafood, it really is one of the best things in the world!

    I love the grainy effect of the picture, which I realize is probably due to age, but its pretty nontheless. How long ago was it taken?

  3. It's been so long since I baked cookies. I can't wait til Christmas!

  4. This picture was taken actually about 3 years ago (for my senior year high school pictures) and then scanned into the computer (which is probably why it's grainy.) Not great picture quality but I am glad you like it!

  5. Aw so cute, love it. Cute picture, can't wait for another post

  6. Mmm, sounds so yummy. It's making me hungry!

  7. Luv hearing about THese. GreaT post, kept it up!!!!