Today I'm eating red beets in honor of my mother. Or, more specifically, rote bete--gekocht und geschalt, sliced in neat little rounds. Beets always make me think of Mom, along with pickled eggs, because she often had them in the fridge when I was growing up. Now I'm seeing how many of Mom's special food-loves are particular to Germany, at least this southern region. Hmmm...coincidence? No, I doubt it, since many of her roots are here! But I never made the connection before. Also, sour cherries were high on Mom's list, especially in a sour cherry pie baked with cherries fresh off our backyard tree on Clinton street. Yum! And guess what, I've seen more sour cherry items in the grocery stores here than I ever found back in the States. Sauerkirsche jam, for example. Bliss, poured over vanilla ice cream.
What foods make me think of my father? A big bowl of ice cream, with milk on top (sort of a cereal bowl type of shake). Doesn't matter what flavour (correct me if I'm wrong, Dad). When we lived in Africa, one of the best treats we could have was home-made ice cream, turned and turned forever, the ice and salt eventually freezing the cream mix inside a metal cylinder. Dad usually took charge of the entire operation, and we all got a chance at the crank. I think we often had a circle of bemused Burundians watching, wondering what these crazy Americans were up to. As far as other foods, brownies and cookies never failed to please him. Come to think of it, any type of sweet! I do remember at Christmas, once Dad built up a medical practice in Oregon, he and Mom sent out packs of almonds--cheddar flavor, smoke flavor, plain salted--to other doctors, nurses, and assorted friends and family. Dad put aside a pack or two for the family, and he snacked on those as long as they lasted, which wasn't long with four children constantly snatching tastes.
Well, the beets just took me down this trail of reminiscing. Interesting, the place to which a simple root vegetable can lead the memory.