We are having a few renovations done in our kitchen at the moment so I had to empty my kitchen cabinets. Wow! The stuff you find when you do such things. I can tell you that some deep considering and culling will be done before I replace my necessities back into the kitchen!
However, amongst the minutia I found a small treasure that took me back in time to a particular memory that I relived in my mind as if it were yesterday.
I am three years old. I am visiting my Auntie Louis with my mom and my grandmother. Auntie Louis is my grandmother’s sister-in-law, and she lives alone, a widow for some time. I am at a small table … maybe a coffee table … sitting in a little chair. Everyone else is sitting around the kitchen table.
Auntie Louise approaches me. She is round and tall and wears a long, loose housedress … maybe it is actually a housecoat … her hair is peppered grey and pulled into a bun at the back of her head. Auntie sets down before me this little glass filled with tomato juice. She smiles wide. She has only one tooth … it could be a front tooth … and I am amazed at all that space in her mouth and the strange glistening pink of her gums.
“Here you go, dear.” The lilt in her voice is distinctly French.
I take a sip … salty, tinny, acidy tomato … thick and grainy. It tastes like Auntie Louise’s house.
Her large hips sway as she walks back to the kitchen table, then returns with a box of chocolates.
“Have one, dear.”
I look into her toothless mouth again. Then to her kind, grey eyes. Then to the box of chocolates. I want one that is soft and creamy inside … which one could hold such delight, I wonder.
“Take two,” Auntie says.
I choose a square one and a round one. “Thank you,” I whisper. I am a shy child.
I listen to the adults’ conversation from my little perch, alone with my tomato juice and chocolates. The square one is chewy and sticks in my teeth. I don’t like it but I eat it anyway. The round one holds that creamy pleasure I hoped for. I savor it … a bite of chocolate, then a sip of tomato juice … a bite of chocolate … a sip of tomato juice … such an odd combination.
I’ve never had it since. It belonged at Auntie Louise’s house.
Food memories come to us in different ways. What piques yours?
Eat well. Be happy.