Monday, August 6, 2012

The Flavors of Childhood


'Tis a bit off-topic, but I wanted to take a moment between photographing the Remington for a later post and railing at the Laptopasaurus for not reading the photos to write about an experience I had this morning. I had already taken a set of photos, attempted to type with the Remington and photographed the less-than-stellar result (I will be re-hydrating that ribbon tonight!) and decided I felt a bit peckish. So, I retrieved four organic peaches that we had procured from the sale section of our local market yesterday morning. I love fruit and always have, but I had become very disenchanted with what the supermarkets commonly offer, as it tends to be tasteless.

After a thorough rinsing, I bit into one of these peaches and was pleasantly surprised that it actually had flavor. Not just flavor, but good flavor. Great flavor. The taste and aroma planted me solidly back in my eleven-year-old skin for a few moments. Back then, we used to go to Jernagan Farm, a you-pick orchard near Wilcox, Arizona. We would leave home at five in the morning and go to pick bushels of peaches and apples, filling the back of our pickup truck. My parents owned a fruit stand, so we sold many of them, but we also kept quite a bit home for our own use.

We had a small garden at home as well, and grew our own squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. My mother, brother and sister are good cooks, and they would spend all summer, canning and making pies, home-made pasta sauce and fresh banana and zucchini bread. I can still taste the garlic dill pickles my mother would make, and she made cases of them just for me because I loved them so and could eat an entire jar myself. They also made preserves, and there's nothing in this world better on toast that real butter and home-made preserves. Biting into that single organic peach, it was 1993 again and I could hear the cicadas, which I would sometimes catch, along with those giant, black grasshoppers.

It was the best peach I had eaten in years, and I ate all four of them, savoring the flavors of my youth. I didn't realize just how much I missed my mother's cooking, or how in front of the curve we were back then in regards to whole foods. And I've let myself slip a lot since then. I do eat much more processed food than I should. But those peaches this morning reminded me of the joys of real food. those peaches brought me back.

From now on, I will be making a far more conscious effort to steer clear of the processed amalgam that we are bombarded with by supermarkets and fast food joints. I would love to know: what are your flavors of childhood, and have they helped shape your adult eating habits? What memories do they take you back to? Please, discuss.

Peaches are to be savored, not used as weapons!

Anna Strad.


  1. Oh, there are so many. Must I be limited to only one?

    1. Well, it was a lot of work, as I had to help pick as well, but it was fun, too. And of course you can choose more than one flavor! The peaches just took me back; after that, I mentioned many flavors from my childhood.

  2. This would resonate with my wife more than me. She says this often now that we have so many farmer's markets. She grew up in a semi-rural area that urbanized around her, while I grew up in the inner city eating junk.

    1. Ahh, I understand. It certainly isn't something that everyone can relate to. My husband had a similar upbringing as you, and it's difficult to get him to eschew the junk food at times. Even with my upbringing, it's difficult for me at times, too, as it's such a fast fix.

      I do think that my childhood had something to do with me becoming a foodie later on, though. Even though I have fallen into the processed food trap, I'm pretty picky about it, and I'd rather eat whole foods and quality ingredients. Many times, quickness trumps quality, unfortunately. So I still eat way too much junk.

      Do you find it difficult to steer clear of the junk at this point in your life?

    2. Not at all difficult. I've been in foodservice my whole adult life and since I worked for a couple years at the upper end of that I like GOOD food and know how to make it. I can tell the good produce from the bland stuff, just did not have the childhood memories of it.

    3. Makes perfect sense to me. I spent a good portion of my working life in food service as well, and so has my husband. I think it has served to refine both of our palates quite a bit. The only reason we touch junk at this point is convenience...and occasionally, you just want a potato chip.