Food memories are some of the most powerful memories we have. Taste, smell, touch and emotion are so closely wrapped together and so evocative that just a hint of spice or a tiny drop of flavor can bring generations of families right next to you.
I have so many food memories: from the spaghetti my brother used to eat right out of the can to the smell of my great-grandmother’s borscht (I would never actually taste it). The one that stays with me is the peeled and carefully sliced orange my grandmother would prepare for my grandfather. What a treat–perfectly cut disks of juicy, vibrant orange. What a simple and unremarkable food preparation.
My grandmother served waffles hot off the iron, their incredibly sweet aroma wafting around our summer cabin porch. Then, bringing in a knife, orange and glass plate, she would peel and slice the orange for my grandfather. It seemed like such a humble act for a woman who often chafed against her role as a housewife.
Now, I find myself slicing oranges for my husband and son. Usually on a Sunday and always served with French toast made from leftover Shabbat challah. I don’t think they realize the vivid memories I experience from the simple act of peeling and slicing an orange. As I slice, I think of Nana and Papa and all I learned from them in Eden, N.Y., so many years ago.
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