I've be meaning to participate in more of the genea-bloggers regular prompts (it was actually a New Years resolution of mine) and tonight at dinner with my dad I got the push I needed to do the current prompt which has to do with memories of food and family. At dinner tonight my dad had coffee and some toast came with his meal. He's always dunked his toast in his coffee for as long as I can remember and it is a trait he has passed on to me (actually the only time I ever even drink coffee is if it comes with toast... I'm more of a tea kind of a gal). So we are sitting there, splitting his toast and coffee and taking turns dunking it, and it dawned on me that this is perfectly applicable to the current prompt! On the way home I thought of a few other food and family memories that I've put below:
My Italian Grandmother: my paternal grandmother had the most bizarre palate of anyone you'll ever meet, and it is also a palate that she largely shares with me. She is the one who would drink milk and Pepsi together (like me and Laverne from Laverne and Shirley!) and have pepperoni sandwiches (take a piece of bread and spread with mayo then generously top with pepperoni and eat), something I loved before I became a vegetarian. Another oddity that I don't know if I can trace to her or not is mustard sandwiches. My cousin (also her granddaughter) use to LOVE mustard sandwiches (take a piece of bread and SMOTHER with French's mustard then eat, serve with a dill pickle on the side if desired) and when I was little I did too! She (and my dad) always liked salty tomatoes as a snack too (take a tomato, cut in half and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper or garlic salt). Her mother who came to the US from Italy in 1920, use to make "tomato mash" too which my dad also likes. To make tomato mash take a piece of bread (toast works best) and then take a half a tomato and mash it into the bread. Make sure all of the tomato juices and as much of the innards as possible get on the bread (ideally you just want the tomato skin leftover) then sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat (mayo is an optional ingredient).
My Berger grandmother: I don't really have any culinary memories of her... the only thing we ever made together were USO Squares (thanks to the genea-blogger cookbook for the name and recipe!) which are totally delicious! My grandmother could also make a Thanksgiving feast out of table scraps. I was and am amazed at what she could do with just leftovers or few ingredients (she was a child of the Great Depression and I think that was where she got it from). She could also take leftovers from one meal and make it into something completely different the next night. I also remember her love for mayo- seriously, she could and would put mayo on ANYTHING. Another thing I remember from her are her tomato, peanut butter and mayo sandwiches which were and are the most disgusting things imaginable.
Obviously (and I'm sure this is the case for most people), my mother was my strongest culinary influence. I'll never forget being about five at our cabin in the Sierras and my mother teaching me how to make pancakes. It was the first thing I ever made from scratch (and the first time I was allowed to use the stove). They weren't pretty pancakes nor were they terribly appetizing, but we sat and ate them for breakfast nonetheless and they were pretty gosh darn amazing! While no specific recipes come to mind, my mother literally did teach me everything I know about cooking (and a bunch of other stuff too) though to this day we cannot discuss gravy (she argues that the proper roux is flour and water while I insist on doing it with flour and butter).