What Are Your Very Earliest Memories About Food?

I remember my auntie’s big rhubarb patch - we kids would cut off a stalk and suck on and eat the very sour rhubarb. As well, if we weren’t doing that we had a slice of fresh lemon on our front teeth which we enjoyed for hours. No wonder I’ve spent a lot of time at the dentist, endodonist and oral surgeon this year…:scream_cat:

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It was so cool to have the cinnamon toothpicks. Made my own also.

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I forgot one - the smell of the bread baking in the Silvercup bakery as we crossed the 59th street bridge.

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I don’t recall that one but I can see it having an appeal. Plus it’s like stealth candy - parents probably wouldn’t be that aware of it.

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On Saturdays my father traveled to all of our stores. I often tagged along to spend time with him. There were wonderful aromas. The first would be the smell of cigar tobacco as we passed Ybor City. Next was the scent of oranges as we drove by what is now a Tropicana juice plant. Lastly, the fresh baked bread from the Sunbeam bakery factory as we approached Lakeland. It was wonderful. We stopped by the bread factory once and the manager brought us on a little tour and gave us several loaves of hot, unsliced bread when we left. We tore bites off of one the entire drive back home!

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I wonder if they are still popular with that age range? We weren’t allowed to have them. 'Cos you could poke your eye out and my mother thought girls chewing on them looked “trashy”. Perhaps that was part of the appeal?

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Going to Ottavio’s - AKA “The Italian Store” - with my mom. We would go every weekend for cheese, meats, olives. “Otto” would give me pieces of cheese. One time he handed a piece out “for the baby”. I don’t know what kind it was.

Mom: She won’t like that.
Otto: Too sharp?
Mom: Not sharp enough.

I was a lover of hard, big-flavored cheese as a 3-4 year old. Still am.

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My dad making sukiyaki at the table in an electric fry pan.

Penny candy from a candy store in the small town of Hartleton, PA where my Grandma lived when I was growing up. A quarter could get you all sorts of fun candy!

Eating TV dinners in front of the TV one time a year - when the Wizard of Oz was on (a.k.a. “Wiz Woz”).

My brother putting peas in my sister’s smoke-gray milk glass (she HATED peas) and my mom and dad hearing her siren-level screech all the way next door (the two families were having "kids dinner at one house, adult drinks and dinner at the other).

Making my first apple pie for Thanksgiving when I was about 14 years old and getting (rarely given) high praise from my father. Pie baking then became “Linda’s job” at the holidays.

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I grew up in cattle country. We had a cow so we always had butter and thick, thick cream, almost like clotted cream. When mother would bake bread she would cut us a slice, warm from the oven, slathered in butter, brown sugar and topped with the thick cream. Ambrosia.

I also remember the potluck barbeques every summer. Whoever had butchered a steer would host and invite the neighborhood. The memory of the meat sizzling over chunks of oak, galvanised wash tubs with a block of ice full of beer, soda and watermelons. Mother would bring lemon meringue pies and dad a big pot of chili. There was one lady that always brought a big bowl of salsa, I loved that stuff.

And flour tortillas. My classmates mom & dad would bring her a hot lunch in a dishpan covered with a tea towel and sometimes I would be invited to share. I can’t remember what else there was, but it was the beginning of my love affair with flour tortillas.

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What stores did you have?

The Brisk roasting plant still perfumes much of Ybor City in the mornings, until you get to 7th Avenue, where Naviera takes over. When I was going to school at HCC, I’d drive past the coffee roasters, then the Wonder bakery (I miss that smell!)

A few blocks further and La Segunda fills the air with the smell of bread fresh out of the oven.

The combination of low tide and fish still creeps around the 22nd street docks and the Licata bridge.

South of town the phosphate mills still wrinkle your nose, but not as bad as it used to be.

Cigarettes and coffee and morning light through blinds still take me to my grandmother’s kitchen (the one above).

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As a toddler, eating raw freshly dug clams on the beach with my father.
Around the same time, his opening a jar of Wilson’s pickle pigs’ feet and sharing with me. My mother wouldn’t touch them.

Walking a turkey home from an American Legion “turkey shoot” fund raiser. Being around for the “pre-Thanksgiving preparations”.

Eating Santa Rosa plums in my aunt’s garden next door. Getting in trouble for dripping the very staining juice down my dress.

Being taken by my Italian sister-in-law to the Liguria Bakery in San Francisco’s North Beach for “fugazza”. Still in existence and someplace i send every visitor to SF. Totally different and above any you’ve had before. And worth a visit just for the aroma when you walk in the door.

My aunt making me what she called snickerdoodle: a soda cracker with sugar, cinnamon and sprinkle of hot water. At 4, I thought they were wonderful; my mother just rolled her eyes.

The annual Thanksgiving fight over how much sage went into the dressing and whether or not clove belonged in pumpkin pie. Oh, and then there was the year when, helping, I heated both the mince AND the pumpkin pies. Boy, did that rouse the super-elders in the family.

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We had leather goods in Clearwater, Tampa and Lakeland. Been closed for over 30 years now.

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“As a toddler, eating raw freshly dug clams on the beach with my father.
Around the same time, his opening a jar of Wilson’s pickle pigs’ feet and sharing with me. My mother wouldn’t touch them.”

That brought back memories. We used to clam at Pismo Beach and dad always had a bottle of Tabasco in his back pocket. He would pop open a clam, sprinkle it with Tabasco and slurp it down. And it was my mother who ate the pickled pigs feet. I didn’t partake in the raw clams or pig’s feet.

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Exactly! But Palm Beach, now very toney Pajaro Dunes. Our clams were larger and he would cut them up into smaller pieces. Lemon or spritz of Worcestershire. I didn’t know any better at 3-4, but learned from older kids "eeeeyuuuuuu"ing that what I was eating wasn’t cool.

Flavor straws. The straws were striped and looked like barber poles. The brown and white were chocolate flavored, and the pink & white were strawberry flavored. You dip them up & down in your glass of milk to release the flavor.
My mother’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes in between the two layers. Topped with a can of Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Alphabet soup.
Black & white ice cream sodas (known as black & whites in New York City).
Chocolate egg creams. (Bosco chocolate syrup mixed with seltzer water and milk).

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Gardening with my Dad - planting a carrot patch and hunting for potatoes as he turned the soil over.

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Flavor straws and Fizzies. Drop it in the water and it flavored it.

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BOSCO! Now, there’s a blast from the past.

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And thinking that Alka-Seltzer tabs were the same as Fizzies! In the early to mid fifties in the NYC suburbs, there were soft drinks in a can shaped like a smaller version of those in which we now buy motor oil at gas stations. The metal cap required a bottle opener, like a glass Coca-Cola (“Coke” came later). I think the brand (it had different flavors) may have been Super Koola…

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Oh geez. I remember a teenage uncle introducing me to Zots…a hard candy with fizzy powder inside.

After I got over the initial shock of my mouth foaming up after the hard candy shell dissolved, I was hooked.

I still buy a few in the rare occasion I find them

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold