Diner in search of lost time
- July 25, 2008 7:49 AM |
- By Jessica Wong
by Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca
Food can elicit such a range of emotions — in my case, it's most often excitement, yearning, curiosity and wonder. Of late, however, the feeling I'm returning to again and again seems to be nostalgia.
This lingering feeling may have been sparked by an ode to old-fashioned frosted cakes I read a few months back or perhaps the Proust-like response I've had recently upon hearing the tinkling, summertime sound of ice cream trucks lazily weaving through my neighbourhood (and invoking childhood memories of playing with cousins at my grandmother's house).
This week, at a belly-busting dinner with some relatives I haven't seen in a long time, an average plate of crispy-skinned roast pork suddenly turned my thoughts to my late uncle, a Chinese restaurateur who died more than a decade ago.
It wasn't the best roast pork I'd ever had, but as I chewed on several morsels, I considered how my cousin is now the spitting image of his father. It's been at least a year since I'd thought of my uncle.
Food is such a powerful and evocative substance. I began considering what other dishes instantly bring to mind memories of people I know or places I've been.
A hot crepe smeared with chocolate transports me back to a little street vendor outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Just the sight of the pillowy Filipino custard-and-meringue dessert brazo de Mercedes invokes my partner's gentle and sweet Aunt Florence.
An overflowing mound of spaghetti Bolognese makes me think of my younger sister and her sometimes hit, sometimes miss cooking attempts.
Buttery soft loaves of egg bread inevitably turn my thoughts to my mother, who used to say that making bread from scratch was a great stress-reliever (as she smacked huge dollops of dough against our kitchen table).
Which foods get you into a nostalgic mood?
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