Last week, my column reflected on the premise of the television show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” I wrote a story about two individuals and their descriptions of the best things they ever ate growing up.
Food creates memories. When I posted my column on Facebook, many of my friends let me know about their favorite foods growing up. Comments usually highlighted homemade dishes prepared by mom or grandma.
Food memories are more sensory than the simple reflection of a time or place. Food recollections can take you back to a kitchen, a table, or a smell.
In the column, I recalled my mom’s scrumptious picnic lunches. The more I thought about it, I remembered eating outside, below tall pines and near a rushing stream in the days of living in Alaska. We would chip ice off a glacier to put in our cooler. After lunch, fishing lines would go in the water.
Today, I will bring you two more stories of food memories. Mary Jackson Taggatz was my wife’s best friend growing up. They were next-door neighbors.
They always attended each other’s birthday parties, rode their bikes to the beach together, and spun many a Beatles record.
Mary’s mom, Betty, was a kind and generous woman who was an outstanding cook and baker. When Mary was born, her mom, who was a registered nurse, made the decision to stay home.
Growing up in White Bear Lake, Mary lived close enough to her school; she was able to walk home from school for lunch. She didn’t realize how special that was.
Eventually, Betty went back to work as a school cook. Mary could not even begin to pinpoint one or two favorites that her mom made, but some particulars started to come out.
Mary said they had a big garden that included a strawberry patch. Every year around Mary’s birthday, the strawberries ripened and a fresh strawberry pie was a tasty birthday tradition.
She remembered a Christmas cake that her mom made that was really a delicious thin chocolate cake, filled with whipping cream, rolled up like a jelly roll, and covered with hot fudge sauce. It sounds almost too good to be true.
Finally, the Thanksgiving meal. Mary wonders how her mom accomplished it in a grand fashion in the small kitchen in their home.
Dr. Dave Laposky, who lives in Pine River, told me he absolutely loved when his mom Eleanor made creamed hamburger for supper. The recipe was passed down from his grandma on his dad’s side. The simple meal consisted of hamburger with a little grease from the cooking, milk, flour and salt added to a perfect consistency.
Add that creamed hamburger on top of mom’s creamy mashed potatoes or even fresh bread, and Dave was in a good place. He recalled that after supper, his mom would then mix the leftover creamed hamburger with the leftover mashed potatoes and serve it for lunch the next day. Dave felt he may have even liked the leftovers more.
Eleanor didn’t use recipes much. It was all a little bit of this and that until everything was just right. It was a delight for Eleanor to cook for her family. The holiday meals were spectacular.
The family of seven gathered together as much as possible at the dinner table. Many conversations were held. After the meal, the family would linger at the table to discuss the day’s events.
Dave also fondly remembers chicken and homemade noodles and his mom’s fryer-fresh doughnuts. Eleanor became known as the doughnut lady in their church. Taking a doughnut right out of the fryer and sprinkle some sugar on it — some of the best things Dave ever ate.
Years ago, families had more time. More time to eat, to talk, to laugh, to share the day. Food creates memories.
Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at email@example.com.