This post brought to you by Campbells' // Few things in life can transcend age, race, religion, culture, gender and language other than food. I have sat down to meals where I can not even communicate with those with me because of a language barrier and yet, through the food, a full vibrant story was told. Few things can evoke such emotion than walking down memory lane, chatting about someone’s family members in the kitchen and the magical meals that they enjoyed in that kitchen.
For me, my love of food and cooking came from my Grandfather. We didn’t get to spend much time with him before he passed away, but the time I did spend with him I will always treasure. I remember sitting with him at the breakfast table and watching him enjoy a nice crusty loaf of bread with olives, and a sharp feta drizzled with a good fruity olive oil for breakfast. At the time, I was shocked at his breakfast choice. I was still in the Fruit Loop phase.
His home was right in the middle of his avocado ranch in Southern California full of all kinds of earthy treasures. My Grandfather cultivated not only avocados but all kinds of citrus fruits and vegetables in his rustic garden. He was always quietly trying to introduce my sisters and I, to try new things like persimmons and peppers. He would go out and pick a few peppers and then entice us girls to eat the pepper for money. A dollar if I remember right. We made Muddy Punch out of all the different types of citrus he had growing on his property. It looked a little odd with the addition of the pomegranate juice and the citrus, but man was it amazing!
My Grandfather asked nothing more from us little girls than to at least try everything. Our young pallets didn’t always love what we ate, but we were exposed to so many flavors that we would have never had the chance to try without his guiding hand. His love of exploration through food is something I have always admired about him and something I have incorporated into my life.
The meals that we had at his table are meals that even decades later, I have never forgotten. I would always hang out in the kitchen with my Grandparents while they tinkered and masterfully created simple yet flavorful dishes for us to share. These are memories that I treasure and hope to pass down to my kiddos. The only way I can do that is through my own cooking. I want to tell the stories that my grandfather told and countless others who have come after him.
It’s so funny how almost every dish that I make tells a story of someone dear to me or a place that I have traveled or even just a simple experience. It’s an amazing way to share those stories with your friends and family in a way that they won’t soon forget. It’s kind of like a tasty walk down memory lane.
My Beef Bourguignon tells many different stories, it reminds me of my Grandfather and his travels in France, and my own travels in France while reading Julia Childs biography along the way. Every single time I make this or even see the photo, I am immediately transported back to one of my favorite places.
My Cheddar Corn Chowder is an instant reminder of my days in Las Vegas and all of my sweet wonderful friends there. One friend in particular, my Betty. Every single time we had a pot luck or any kind of food gathering, Betty would always ask if I had made my Cheddar Corn Chowder. I know that for years to come when I make this soup my friend Betty will be right by my side even though she is now hundreds of miles away.
Now, this Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie will forever remind me of when my daughter Haley brought home her first boyfriend for dinner… That’s one meal that I won’t soon forget. It was like the beginning of a whole new chapter in our lives as parents. CRAZY!!
Believe it or not, this knock-off Zuppa Toscana reminds me of Christmas. We have soups for our Christmas Eve dinner and this is always a crowd pleaser. That is for everyone except my brother in law… His first reaction when I served him one of my favorite soups, “Umm, can I have my salad on the side?” Always the comedian.
And then there is my crepe cake… This will always remind me of my daughter’s eighth birthday. We gathered as a family to celebrate her birthday and her baptism. Crepes have always been my “thing” and to make this beautiful cake, was a pure labor of love. Another one of those memories that I never want to forget.
Why do I cook? I cook for many reasons, but my favorite reason is that soul filling walk down memory lane. With just one dish, I can spend time with my Grandfather and feel close to him even though he has be gone for years. I have silly memories of family gatherings and special memories with my children that I never want to forget. Memories that I hope my children will carry with them for years to come. That’s why I cook.
This is a collaboration between Campbells' and the AOL Lifestyle Contributor Network. Compensation was provided by Campbell's via AOL Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Campbell's.0