After reading and reviewing Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, a memoir that spelled out how Reichl, editor of Gourmet magazine, food critic and author of many food-related books, got hooked on the food industry after surviving some…well…failures that her mom made in the kitchen.
A comment I received, about another mother’s daring attempts in the kitchen, made me want to do this roundup from readers. I asked that they comment what was their most memorable dining experience in a meal cooked by their mom. And to share both the best and the worst:
I’ll start: my mom was somewhat of an off and on vegetarian so her flavorless attempts – Barley Casserole and Carrot Casserole – nearly killed me. However, she made up for it with her homemade Bracioles (pronounced Bar-joe-lees)!
Scott E. – One Mother’s Day I got her a set of storage containers that had clock face like dials to mark the day and month they were saved. Only the very brave ventured into her freezer. Lol.
Mike B. – Best: Chicken Fried Steak. (We’re from Texas.) Runner Up: Pasta La Gusta (she never told us what was in it) Worst: Nothing. She was an amazing cook. I’m gaining weight just thinking about all of her awesome meals. I regret never learning how to cook from her, but she definitely taught me how to eat.
Michael G. – I’ll start with best, my Nana used to cook the most amazing Italian dinners. During the week she would bake bread and make a small loaf just for me. She’d pull it from the oven and pour out some good olive oil and black pepper and we’d have an after school feast of bread. Such fond memories. Worse food, as good as my family was with Italian food, meat was always served beyond well done. It wasn’t until my first job as a server that I discovered lamb chops were not supposed to be little pieces of burnt meat on burnt bones. A guest ordered them medium rare and I thought they were insane. LOL.
Kevin K. – I found out my mom used mustard as a spice in her spaghetti. I hate mustard. On the positive side I still make her homemade macaroni and cheese recipe.
Susan W. – Everything was straight out of the Betty Crocker cookbook: meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, liver and onions (us kids really didn’t like that one!) I remember once in a while it got exotic and we would have cheese enchiladas!
Danika S. – My mom was not a great cook, although I didn’t learn that until I had Lule kebobs at the Farmers Market in L.A. You mean they’re NOT supposed to be dry and tasteless?
Vicki H. – My mom was a great cook. But now that is a lost art to her. I disliked Curry for many years because she over did it once. But I am eating a lot of it now in our South Beach Diet. Her Sho Pao was to die for. Along with her Pan Sit. Miss her cooking.
Lori R. – My mom was on a health kick, and substituted carob for all candies on Easter, convincing us that carob tastes the same.
Yeah. I kept eating that carob, thinking it would magically taste like chocolate.
Another time, we had a huge box of cantaloupes and dozens of eggs (all left over from an encampment — we lived at a Girl Scout camp).
Living on a mountain, far from a market, and on a very tight budget, my parents announced that we would eat 2 eggs and half a cantaloupe every morning. My mom even convinced my brother and I that lemon pepper would taste good on the cantaloupe.
I couldn’t eat eggs or cantaloupe again until I was in my 30’s.
Good food: my grandma has always made the best marinara sauce. As a new bride, she lived next door to an Italian grandma immigrant, who taught my grandma that Old World style. So delicious.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com