So many moments happen around a kitchen. It is a gathering place for families and friends to eat, drink and talk about life. For my family, it’s the spot we always seem to congregate in, and food is the central part of almost every get-together. Food was important to both sides of my family growing up, and the gourmet dishes that my Newman grandmother created would, I believe, impress even professional chefs. She had a gift with food, and the presentation was nothing short of an artistic masterpiece.
My granddad on the other side of my family also liked to cook, but he was more of a “fry some eggs up in some bacon grease” kind of guy. One of my most treasured memories revolves around enjoying food with my granddad. He lived a few blocks away from my childhood home, and we always knew he was good for having a fresh cake sitting on his counter. The cake wasn’t anything special—just a box cake with canned frosting, but that was one of my favorite things to sit and eat with him. I always knew I could walk over to his house, sit at his table and enjoy a huge piece of cake, cold glass of milk and just talk about nothing or everything. My dad stopped by his house every day on his lunch break to have a “sliver” (or two or three) of cake with my grandpa too, and sometimes I would try and time it so I would be there around the same time. It was such a simple thing, but those visits were so meaningful to me.
As I got older, my granddad would invite my husband and me over for dinner quite often as he lived alone, and most times he made his famous “old lady pork chops;” they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I always knew a piece of his famous box cake and a cup of coffee on the porch would be the grand finale. Still, to this day, I can’t eat a box cake or even walk past the cake mix aisle at the grocery store without thinking of my granddad. When he passed, I got his platter that he served those “old lady pork chops” on, and it is one of my most treasured possessions, cracks and all.
It’s funny that even the simplest foods can hold such significance and nostalgia. Sitting around the table and enjoying a meal or traditional family recipe can create such lasting memories. Sometimes the food is the memory but often for me, it was the moments spent while sharing a meal that stuck.