Childhood Memories

Our Childhood Series asks foodbloggers, musicians, chefs and other artistic, creatives about their childhood memories in food in a Q&A format.

Childhood Memories with Mark Collins

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?

I always complained terribly about meatloaf night and often refused to finish my plate. It wasn’t until Junior year of high school that I realized the exact same meatloaf was the main protein when my Mom made pitas – a meal I typically requested for my birthday dinner. So I started eating meatloaf after that and now it’s one of my most favorite dishes.

2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
My sister and I would put velveeta cheese on English muffins, sprinkle it with salad seasoning and toast it in the oven. We didn’t have a name for them until one morning my mom became exasperated over how quickly we went through English muffins and called them “stupid cheese things.” The name stuck.

3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
All four members of the family sat down to dinner together every night. Most times my mom prepared something from her repertoire of 15-20 dishes she could cook from memory. Every Friday was pizza night and we’d usually sit down and watch TV while we ate.

4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
Nothing particular comes to mind but I’m sure my family members would disagree.

5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?

Goodness yes. When I first moved to Austin I lived with a chef and she exposed me to so many exciting culinary wonders, in addition to making me appreciate staples like onions and mushrooms. Now I try as many new foods as possible, from goat brain curry in Bangalore to ant egg tacos in DF.

Childhood Memories with Eric Pulsifer of Tuesday Newsday and The Movie Press

Eric Pulsifer

 

Meet Eric Pulsifer, music and movie blogger for TuesdayNewsday (http://tuesdaynewsday.tumblr.com/) and The Movie Press (http://www.themoviepress.com).

What was your favorite snack as a kid?

The snacks I remember most from my childhood were breakfast foods, which is probably not a big surprise since breakfast is still my favorite meal today. Few things are better than breakfast. As a great man once said, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.”

Breakfast as a kid was a little different than the multiple varieties of meat pork-stravaganza with eggs I like to chow down on these days. It was all about cereal — sugary, sugary cereal.

Most of these multi-colored boxes of happiness were cross-promotional items for TV shows, movies or action figures. In the ’80s, my dental kryptonites of choice were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, or two-in-one goodness of Nintendo Cereal System. If my bowl of sugar-coated carbs wasn’t promoting a cartoon or toy, you could be sure it was from an oversized box packed with a free toy of its own: Cap’n Crunch with little Cap’n and Soggy figures, Fruity Pebbles with rubbery Flintstones figures, or Raisin Bran with its California Raisin toys. There were also plenty of Fruity Marshmallow Krispies, Count Chocula and Cinnamon Toast Crunch consumed between 1985 and 1995. In the dusk of my cereal-eating years, it was Spider-Man Cereal, which in retrospect I’m fairly certain was just a fresh face on the Ninja Turtles cereal — think: extra-sweet Chex with multi-colored marshmallows.

Eventually, I graduated on to microwavable pairs of Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits, putting a fatty finishing touch on the foundation of my formative years. I don’t know how I lived past 20.

(Side note: If you were or still are a cereal killer, you owe it to yourself to check out this short read from Mental Floss on the history of cereal and its surprising effect on American culture.)


What was the most common meal you ate as a child?

I’m going to answer that question with a question: Can I just keep talking about breakfast? When out and about for the most important meal of the day, there were two “restaurants” I frequented as a young human: Shoney’s and Grandy’s.

Every Friday, I would go with my parents and meet my grandmother for the breakfast buffet at Shoney’s. Shoney’s, if you’ve never been, is like a less fancy Sizzler or Golden Corral. I can still taste the awful orange-red seasoning salt I would sprinkle on scoops of slimy instant eggs topped with heat lamp-warmed cheese sauce. These were accompanied by dry biscuits and mountains of frozen hash browns drowned in bland white pepper gravy with all the spice of lukewarm wood glue.

Grandy’s was the last thing I ate before getting braces put on and the first thing I ate after getting braces taken off. Whether I was getting the buffet or ordering off menu, my choice there was always the same: chicken-fried steak with gravy, eggs and a McDonald’s-like fried puck of hash browns.

If it was after 11 a.m., the meal I remember most was a dish from El Chico, a chain of Tex-Mex casual dining establishments big in the ’90s around my hometown and the rest of the Ark-La-Tex — the cutesy name for a culinary bermuda triangle around the Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas borders framed by East Texas’ dry, over-lean barbecue, North Louisiana’s echoes of great Creole and Cajun cuisine available five hours to the south and… whatever it is that Arkansas brings to the tri-state dinner table.

El Chico was my go-to birthday-dining destination. It was the place I wanted to go if anyone was taking requests. Besides consuming an ungodly amount of paper-thin tortilla chips, corn tortillas and runny salsa, my go-to there was an appetizer called the Botanas Platter — a sampler plate stacked with a couple of greasy fajita nachos, quesadillas, taquitos, stuffed jalapeño peppers, a mini chimichanga and a shot of queso.


Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
Besides eating all the previously mentioned disgusting crap on a regular basis, I was really into mixing ketchup and ranch dressing together and putting it on everything. I even had a name for it: “Ziti Sauce.” That might sound disgusting (and it is) but it’s pretty similar in taste to the secret sauce at Raising Cane’s, if you’re into that kind of thing.

If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?

Around the age of 25, I became more sensitive to the fishy taste of lower-quality seafood and cheap fish. Southern staples I used to love like fried catfish or boiled shrimp just isn’t very appetizing any more without copious amounts of lemon juice and hot sauce to battle off the bad taste. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be an issue with fresh cuts of cleaner fish or in raw or under-cooked fish.

This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Memories with Emily Teachout of A Time to Kale and Endless Simmer

Emily Teachout, an AFBA member, blogs at A Time to Kale and Endless Simmers.

Emily Teachout, an AFBA member, blogs at A Time to Kale and Endless Simmer.

Meet Emily Teachout, AFBA member and food blogger for atimetokale.com & endlesssimmer.com. We asked Emily to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?
I looooved fish sticks (frozen) with macaroni & cheese (boxed Kraft). That was one combo we had a lot. Also tuna noodle casserole, creamed tuna and peas on toast, beef stroganoff, etc.

2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?

I was obsessed with apple juice! I also had this thing I called “the ultimate snack” which was goldfish crackers, cheddar cheese cubes, and raisins mixed together. My mom would make us “sailboats” too, aka triangles of American cheese stuck upright with toothpicks into apple slices.

3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.

Pretty typical. We’d all sit down and eat together, when my brother and I were old enough we’d help set and clear the table. Every once in awhile we were allowed to eat in front of the TV as a special treat. My parents are divorced, so when I was in late elementary – junior high, I’d often help plan and cook the meals. My dad taught me a lot about planning a balanced meal and checking nutrition labels. I loved helping with cooking and recipes. 🙂

4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?

Nothing too extreme. I really hated all fat and gristle on meat and is made my parents trim it really lean for me. That’s the only thing I was weird about.

5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?

I used to hate onions and mushrooms, which are now two of my favorite things! Vegetables were always a bit of a struggle (loved peas and corn – and yeah, corn is definitely not a vegetable but I considered it one as a kid – and was pretty “meh” regarding broccoli, lettuce, spinach, etc) but luckily that changed once I hit the teen years. I also used to shy away from anything too spicy and now, the more sriracha or Louisiana hot sauce, the better!

 This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Memories with Julie Munroe of Foie Gras Hot Dog

Julie Munroe of Foie Gras Hot Dog  getting ready to bread and fry "scallops."

Julie Munroe of Foie Gras Hot Dog getting ready to bread and fry “scallops.”

Meet Julie Munroe, AFBA member and food blogger for http://foiegrashotdog.blogspot.com/. We asked Julie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?
We had a big garden and a vegetarian household, so there were typically a lot of vegetables on the plate. Stewed zucchini with hominy, one-dish rice casseroles, baked potatoes with steamed broccoli and cheese sauce.
2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
Dried bananas – not banana chips, though. We would split the ripe bananas lengthways into the three sections they naturally divide into and dehydrate them until they were leathery, but still a little soft and chewy inside. It was like eating taffy.
3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
We always all had dinner together around the table and I was allowed to be involved in the preparation from an early age. Friday evenings were special because we’d usually have cinnamon rolls, and always rice – rice served with milk and cinnamon, or rice with a savory mushroom curry or chicken tetrazzini-type sauce.
4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I suppose the fact that we used a good deal of meat analog might count as odd. We had fake lunch meats and gluten “scallops” and such. I was eating Morning Star breakfast patties before they were branded for mainstream grocery stores.
5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?
I do eat some fish and chicken occasionally now, and the occasional bite or two of lamb or goat, but it is more an exception than rule for me. My short list of strong dislikes (avocados, fresh tomatoes, grainy Lima beans) is still pretty similar to when I was a kid, but has softened a bit. I’m pretty cool with fresh tomatoes in things these days, at least.
This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Memories with Natalie Paramore

Meet Natalie Paramore, AFBA secretary and food blogger for http://natalieparamore.com/. We asked Natalie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.

AFBA secretary

AFBA secretary

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?
For me, I loved buttered noodles and taco salad as a kid.
2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
My favorite snack was triscuits and cheddar cheese warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave or oven. 
3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
I ate out a LOT as kid because my parents worked. So, my dad was really big on using table manners, like sitting still, napkin in lap and using proper utensils. Especially chopsticks at Asian restaurants. 
4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I really liked mushy french fries and would always try and pick the mushiest ones to eat first. 
5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently? 
My palate has definitely changed! It probably changed the most in college. I really love fresh salads and juice, which I never liked as a kid. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still love green beans and broccoli!
This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Memories with Brittanie Duncan of Three Diets One Dinner

Meet Brittanie Duncan, AFBA social chair and food blogger for www.threedietsonedinner.com. We asked Brittanie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.
AFBA Social Chair

AFBA Social Chair

1. What were the most common meals you ate as a child?
Chicken piccata, canned peas and strawberry shortcake. 

2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
Boursin cheese with homemade pita chips. I’d eat the entire ensemble in one sitting.

 

3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
Dinner would always be ready at 3:30 p.m. when we got home from school. My mom cooked in the morning. We would just reheat it when we were ready to eat. My family would always sit down at the dinner table together for an early dinner. My mom would never eat, although she would sit with us; I guess she just grazed all day.

 

4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I would only eat the creme filling out of Oreos. My best friend filled a jar with just the creme once and gave it to me for my 10th birthday. To this day, it is the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. 

5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?
I stopped eating processed food about three years ago. So yes, everything has changed. I still crave canned peas, though.

 

This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Food Memories with Tiffany Young

Tiffany in kindergartenBy Tiffany Young

This month, we’re revisiting our childhoods. Specifically, our memories of food.

For instance, as a child, I can remember certain things about the summer: how me and my brother would cut through the apartment complex behind our house to get to the snow cone trailer that not only had lots of flavors, but would add condensed milk on top for an extra quarter; how our mom would stock up on those long sticks of flavored ice in the freezer and they’d cut off the ends and suck the juice up; and how nothing got the neighborhood riled up like hearing the ice cream truck.

Then there are the weird things I did with food: Eating hamburgers in a circle to save the last bite for the end (oddly enough, Antonio did this as well). I’d also take the American cheese slices and fold them over and over again until they were teeny tiny squares and eat them slowly as I watched The Brady Bunch or Saved by The Bell after school. Not only that, but I loved healthy food, like yogurt and salads for snacks after school. Yep, I’m a weirdo.

So we got to thinking … if our strongest memories from childhood centered around food, we’re sure they do for others, so we are doing a series on what people remember about their childhood meals.

If you’d like to share your own childhood memories, share them in the comments section or send them to me at tiffany@ohspooning.com and we might just feature them in a future post.

Pictured above: Tiffany, when she was in kindergarten, with her mom, Brenda (pre-Chef Bren). I believe this was our Valentine’s Day party (judging from my attire and that my mom was there).