Food and drink aren’t something I’ve heard much about when it comes to my ancestors. However, I have plenty of memories of food thanks to my father and paternal grandparents.
My dad wasn’t much of a cook. I don’t know if he just didn’t know how to cook or found it easier to keep everything simple as a single dad raising two children on his own. Maybe it was a little of both, because Dad made basic things like baked chicken, ground beef, hamburgers, hotdogs, or pork chops, always with rice and corn or green beans on the side. Sometimes he made spaghetti or got us pizza from our favorite place, Papa Gino’s in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. When we got a crock pot, Dad was excited for the different recipes he could make, but he invariably always made pork chops or chili.
We went to my grandparents’ house on Sundays, holidays, and birthdays for lunch/dinner, and they tended to cook simple food, as well. Most of the time, we had pot roast with potatoes and a vegetable on the side. Sometimes, we had American chop suey, which I hated as child. Absolutely hated! I also refused to eat pasta with tomato sauce on it, because I hate tomatoes. To this day, I still see tomatoes as the enemy (to me, they taste like stale bread and old beer had a baby). But I somehow got over my dislike of tomato sauce and now American chop suey is a comfort food that reminds me of my grandparents.
They also made our birthday cakes. I don’t know if they made them from scratch or a box of Betty Crocker mix. I think probably the latter, because the taste of the mixes is one I’ve always preferred. I know, it sounds weird, but cake made from scratch is never as sweet and I just don’t like it nearly as much as cake that comes from a mix. In the summer, my grandparents would also make chicken salad and potato salad for holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day. I miss those salads, though I didn’t really care for grapes being in the chicken salad. Sometimes, I’ll buy potato salad from the deli. I admit I’m too lazy to make it myself!
The food I associate with Thanksgiving is completely connected to what my grandparents served year after year. As far as I’m concerned, Thanksgiving dinner should consist of turkey, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, green beans (not as a casserole), and cornbread. I don’t like cranberry sauce, but I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without serving that or cranberry nut bread. You won’t see me eat cornbread at any other time of year. For me, cornbread is very Thanksgiving-specific. I also refuse to serve macaroni and cheese for the holiday. It just doesn’t “go with” the meal that I grew up eating, but if someone else serves it, I will certainly eat it. 😉
As you can see, certain foods have really strong associations for me, thanks to my grandparents.