Here in Seattle it is easy to indulge my predilection for sitting in public and sipping coffee. Today I am having my cup of goodness in the local food co-op, Madison Market. I love this place, and it reminds me of one of the reasons I love Seattle. Food is a very personal and cultural thing, and I feel accepted in a place like the co-op. There’s something homey about being in a place where there’s other vegetarians, and people routinely eat tofu. I’ve belonged to a food co-op in every place I’ve lived, and I experience an immediate sense of belonging in each new one I join. Seattle, too, is full of vegetarians and people who think about what they eat. It makes me feel welcome.
When I miss New York, I seek out decent pizza and Italian desserts, and when I miss Minnesota I go to Ballard to get some lefse. Lefse is basically a tortilla made out of mashed potatoes. It’s a Scandinavian thing, and I got hooked on it while I was in Minnesota.
I’ve also fallen to the nostalgia of foods that Mom used to make. I’ve got recipes for some of her treats, but sometimes I take the easy way out. My mother cooked almost everything from scratch. I remember two major exceptions—Kraft macaroni and cheese, and Hamburger Helper. These days the Hamburger Helper contains vegetarian crumbles, but it still brings back the memories. Yum.
Another one of my food rituals centers around pierogis. Pierogis are Polish dumplings made from a pasta-like dough. They can contain many things, but our family makes them most often with potatoes and cheese inside. Once they’ve been boiled we fry them in a pan, and some people like onions on top. Pierogis are part of my Polish heritage, and I love them, but they are labor intensive. Each year my family gets together and spends most of a day making an enormous quantity of them. Then we eat and eat and eat. It’s a ritual I cherish, and it functions as an initiation for new members and friends of the family.
All this writing about food is making me hungry, so it must be time for lunch. See you tomorrow.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
166. Food can create strong feelings, memories and opinions. What are some of yours? Share these thoughts with someone else. Even better, share them over a meal. Remember to respect the feelings of others while you do this exercise.