I recently had dinner at a local German restaurant and I can’t believe my reaction to the menu. I was delighted with the offerings. It was like being in my mother’s kitchen again. They had all the foods of my childhood – oxtail soup, liver and bacon, sauerbraten, potato pancakes and frickadellen. Now I understand what is meant by “comfort foods”. All kinds of memories came flooding back. I can remember “helping” my mother put the vegetables in the soup. She used canned foods then. For the soup she used “Layer Pack”. This was a can of mixed vegetables, but each vegetable was separated from the other by a piece of paper. I also remembered the time my brother found my mother’s recipe and made oxtail soup. I believe the recipe called for ¼ cup of barley, but my brother, in his infinite wisdom, felt that was too little and used half of the box. He didn’t realize that barley expands in liquid and we had a bowl of barley with a little meat and vegetables.
The potato pancakes were a Friday night dinner. Back then we couldn’t eat meat on Friday, so we either had potato pancakes and applesauce or fish cakes and Franco-American spaghetti.
Unfortunately, it also brought back a bad memory or two. My first cooking experiment which took place during a week-long school vacation in February. I think I was in high school at the time and decided that since it was cold, I should make liver and bacon. What a disaster! I think the problem was the gravy, but the whole meal was so heavy. I still remember the sleepless night because dinner was just sitting in my stomach. I still have a problem with gravy, but now I buy premade or do without.
I wonder if my son will someday have pleasant memories of dinners I have made.