It's been swirling around in my mind for quite a while now. To be honest, it's been since the beginning of this blog about 9 months ago.
What exactly is the purpose of this? Is food something to be dwelled on as an attempt to distract us from some unpleasantries in our lives? Perhaps a connection can be made. A place where food, smells, methods, and traditions can take us that few other things can.
Memories. Distinct, treasured, wonderful.
The way I approach specific ingredients, smells, dishes, and preparation methods links me to something that I couldn't bear to do without. Memories of my grandparents.
This lucky girl was blessed with 3 sets of grandparents. My mom's parents divorced and remarried long before I was born, so I knew all six as nothing less than full-fledged grandmas and grandpas. This post isn't about all six of them, though I love them all dearly. It's only about two of them. My dad's parents: Grandpa Floyd and Grandma Jo.
Grandpa Floyd and Grandma Jo lived on a nice-sized plot of land. Just small enough so they could always call the grandkids in for lunch with the big metal bell which hung just outside the back door. Just large enough to provide a variety of excellent hiding places for hide-n-seek, bloody mary, and seven steps around the house. This land also included a large vegetable garden, which was my grandpa's project all summer. I spent some of my summer days helping Grandpa Floyd in the garden, and I owe him for all the garden knowledge I have. More precious than this knowledge are the memories that gardening brings to me. When I go to the local greenhouse, I remember our trips there to pick out seeds. When I taste a fresh carrot, I remember us digging them out of the garden, rinsing them off in a bucket of water and enjoying them right then and there.
Luckily, the brain does well with memories--especially those linked to smell. For this very reason, I grow tomatoes. Have you noticed that tomato plants themselves have a smell? It is fresh, light, and yet a bit humid. Every single time I got into my garden and smelled the tomato plants, I was taken back to my childhood and all the great things that went with it. I did more work with the tomatoes than any other plants in my grandpa's garden, mostly because he was color-blind and couldn't distinguish red from green. This not only provides difficulty for traffic lights, but also picking tomatoes. He and I were always happy to work together to pick all the ripe tomatoes and bring them in to Grandma. And if it was around lunch time, Paul Harvey would be playing on their kitchen radio. And Paul would agree with me, that this indeed is "the rest of the story".