The credit for this post goes to the lovely Kaila, who always has the most creative post ideas! She shared her food biography recently, and it inspired me to think back about what meals have become memorable over the years. I’m going to be sharing 10, but I thought of a lot more!
You can read more about the idea behind a food biography here, but I think it’s a really cool idea. Food is such an important part of our lives, from the social aspect of it to the fact that it’s necessary to sustain life. For me, my food biography isn’t necessarily my favorite foods, since those change all the time, but rather is the foods I most associate with certain memories.
- Einstein Bros. bagels with cream cheese (specifically the asiago and chocolate chip flavors)
Growing up, on some Saturday mornings my dad would wake up early and grab us bagels from Einstein Bros. Getting to eat a bagel for breakfast instead of the usual cold cereal was such a treat. I remember leisurely mornings around the table with my family, newspaper spread out (we’re big newspaper readers!) and enjoying either a chocolate chip bagel with strawberry cream cheese or an asiago bagel with jalapeno cream cheese. They had the best ‘shmear’ flavors and paired with the doughy bagel, it was just bliss. I haven’t had a bagel in years (major fear food) but I remember this special childhood treat.
- Soy chocolate gelato at Gelazzi
One of my favorite flavor combos at Gelazzi–the soy chocolate and birthday cake.
When I first tried gelato (sometime in early HS) I was hooked. Even when froyo became a big thing a few years later, I stuck with gelato. We had one or two local places, but when I went on a college tour of the college I ended up going to, my dad and I just had to try Gelazzi, the gelato place in that town. I remember ordering the soy chocolate gelato and absolutely falling in love. That moment is significant for me because at the time of my college visit, I had recently started recovering from anorexia. I still feared most foods, and going out to eat was really hard for me. The fact that I could order gelato, a dessert, and enjoy it was huge. Since that first experience, me and my family have returned many times to Gelazzi and I’m sad that I can’t go there anymore since I moved away. P.S. Gelato is the reason why I’m only 99% vegan!
- Teriyaki steak on Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember, my mom made teriyaki steak for dinner. Basically it was flank steak marinated in a teriyaki sauce with lots of green onions. There was a brief time during my childhood that I was obsessed with steak (as long as it was well-done) and I always looked forward to this dinner. Even though I don’t eat steak anymore and I don’t plan on it ever, this meal just reminds me of Christmas Eve–going to church with my family, coming home and enjoying this meal, and then reading Christmas stories before going to bed early.
I’m so thankful my dad took the time to cook meals with me when I started getting interested in cooking. We’ve cooked together many times, but this one sticks out to me in particular. I’ve actually since made vegan eggplant muffulettas with him as well! I remember going to the store and picking out fancy olives and good bread and then coming home and making the sandwiches on the panini press. I enjoyed picking out a recipe with him, getting a little cooking lesson and then getting to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Another mom-made meal that I became obsessed with. When a Williams-Sonoma came to our city, my mom would always take me there to browse all the cool kitchen stuff. One time she found this chili-lime seasoning, thought it sounded good, and bought it. She used it on grilled chicken I think, but what I remember most was her chili-lime pasta. Basically it was a sauce made of olive oil and the seasoning with grilled shrimp, grilled peppers and pasta all tossed together. It was really simple but totally delicious and satisfying.
So much good stuff.
I still enjoy these to this day, but I was first introduced to them when my family would go camping. We camped a lot during the summers (something I really miss) and on Saturday (and Sunday if it was a 3 day weekend) we would always have snack plates for lunch. I always called it ‘feast’ because it really was–we would have stuff like crackers, veggies, cheese, summer sausage and fruit–and just enjoy a random sampling of it for lunch. Now I always crave a bunch of different flavors, so I still love snack plates for snacks and meals.
Popsicles were my jam in the summers growing up! I always ate the Popsicle brand, since it had the best flavors. Anybody else remember those firecracker pops? Now they have a whole bunch of crazy varieties like Jolly Rancher and Yosicles but when I was a kid, there were just the classics. And my favorite was by far the root beer one that came in the variety pack with banana and lemon lime. I remember the jokes written on the popsicle stick and eating them out on the porch with my little sister on hot days.
- Jelly Bellies on Christmas
Another Christmas tradition in my family was Jelly Bellies. So random! But one year for whatever reason, we bought Jelly Bellies as a stocking stuffer and the idea stuck. I remember going to Target with my dad and sister a week before Christmas and filling our bags from the different flavored bins. And then my sister and I would tear into our bags on Christmas morning and eat Jelly Bellies before breakfast 😛 They were one of my favorite candies, and I was obsessed with certain flavors, like the strawberry cheesecake and orange creamsicle.
This was another camping staple. My family has always been a cold-cereal-for-breakfast bunch, and when we went camping, that didn’t change. But my mom would give in and let us have those fun, sugary kids cereals (we normally ate healthier cereals like Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats). My sister and I would fight over the Lucky Charms and the Cocoa Puffs and the Trix and leave the boring Honey Smacks and Corn Pops to our parents 😉
After our camping days came to an end, we made an annual trip to Estes Park for a week spent in a cabin–by a pool, in the mountains, hiking and of course, enjoying the local restaurants. Estes Park is one of my favorite places in the entire world–I’m going to miss going there every summer but I hope I can eventually make it back there more regularly. Anyways, on our first night, we’d always go out to eat at Poppy’s, a pizza place by the river. We always sat outside, listening to the sounds of the river and live music. When I was younger, I’d get weird pizzas with shrimp and green olives (seriously, they had so many topping options) and then for a year or two during the height of my ED, I ordered a plain grilled chicken sandwich because I was scared of pizza, but after that time, my go-to order was the hummus pizza, which happened to be vegan (even before I was vegan). The dough was perfectly soft and chewy and the right thickness. The hummus was homemade and super creamy. The olives and the sundried tomatoes and the artichoke hearts and the spinach were matched perfectly and made it the best pizza I’ve ever had. Last summer when we were in Estes, I tried to order it and they said they’d gotten rid of it 😦 So unfortunately, the pizza legend does not live on. But I still remember how good it was, and how much I enjoyed just being in that beautiful place.
What foods would be in your ‘food biography’?