What food defines your childhood?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning, talking about foods of our childhood, and dishes really optimize a time and place for us.

For my friend, it was local chile peppers, grown everywhere around his home town in New Mexico, and finding their way into almost every dish. He claims that he can’t consider something comfort food, if it doesn’t include some hit of those chilies.

For me, as strange as it may sound, it was probably the Burger King Whopper.

(I know…that’s sad…read on…)

Burger_King_Whopper_Combo

I grew up in what the current PC lingo refers to as a “food anxious” home. Back then we just called it “poor”. I’m sure many of you grew up in the same place, where the last days/weeks of the month were punctuated with ramen noodles, baked potatoes, and government cheese…and sometimes not even those.

Between the ages of six and about twelve (when I got my first dish-washing job), when my mom’s disability check would arrive on the first of the month, we would celebrate surviving another 30 days with a big time splurge, really blowing out all the stops and walking six blocks up Burnside to the Rockwood Burger King, for a whopper (heavy onion/heavy pickle), small fries, and a chocolate milk-shake.

We’d eat slow, really savoring our meal, and reveling in our temporary wealth.

photo7I’ve eaten some nose-bleed expensive dinners, in some very nice restaurants in the three decades since, but I gotta be honest…I’m not sure I can say that I’ve ever felt more anticipation, or experienced more pleasure from a first bite…that I did when biting into one of those big, drippy burgers, after a particularly “anxious” month.

So, when I think of my childhood, from the standpoint of a specific food item, I think about the Whopper, which represented, for us, a good day.

And yes…a couple of times a year, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll pull into the local BK, and order my old combo (assuaging my guilt with a diet coke instead of the shake, lol)….and, you know something? I still feel a little of that old rush, as I walk back to my table…and that first anxiety-free bite still tastes wonderful.

What about you? In the encyclopedia of your childhood, what one picture would top the “Food” page?

Tell us about it…

Chef Perry

2 thoughts on “What food defines your childhood?

  1. Mine has to be PASTA from either Olive Garden or Fazoli’s !!! Whenever they would ask me where I wanted to go for my birthday or after a doctors appointment when it was just me and one or both of my parents I would ALWAYS choose the closest Italian place out of those two !!! And I would ALWAYS get the same thing FETTUCINE ALFREDO !!!

    • Awesome! (I still love their Chicken Marsala, lol). A runner up to the whopper, for us, would be the sauteed mushrooms at Mr. Steak, the local Sizzler-type joint in Rockwood. We went once a year, on my birthday, and it was “The French Laundry” of my childhood, lol. Serious high rolling! – Chef Perry

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