for release Friday November 19, 2004
by Melodie Davis
I had fantasized this experience for years. Thirty-five years to be exact.
What was this great experience that I had drooled over so long? A cruise? A trip to Hawaii? Getting invited to the White House?
It was a fish fry. Specifically, a Jonah Club Fish Fry. Such events are well known in Indiana where I grew up and probably other areas as well (but I couldn’t find that they had a website to tell me where their headquarters are). Anyway, I jumped at the chance to go to one of these fund-raising dinners when family business took me to Indiana and happened to coincide with the date of the fish fry at my old high school.
When I walked into the gymnasium where the dinner was served, all the old smells came rushing back to me: a delicious mingling of distant French fry oil and mild fish, freshly baked homemade pies, potato chips, plain white bread, cole slaw (the sugar/vinegar kind), with a little lingering gymnasium smell. Now that may not sound inviting but put that mix of smells together and it was like walking into your mother or grandmother’s kitchen to sniff your favorite childhood meal, welcoming you home.
Now you know the rest of the story. The fish was good, but disappointing. I had forgotten the pieces were square, and somehow this was a big deal. Little more than frozen fish patties deep fat fried and offered to you any time your plate emptied. The memory of it in my mind was much better than the actual experience.
Did this ever happen to you?—substitute whatever childhood food memory you have. Or whatever fundraising dinner or breakfast you used to help at.
I think I enjoyed those fish fries so much as a kid because it was one of the few times a year our family ate out—other than on vacations. My earliest memories of those fish fries was long before I had ever gone to my first McDonald’s, and years before the advent of places like Long John Silvers and Captain D’s.
Memories associated with food are an important part of our happy experiences growing up. In this season when we have lots of feasts, parties and special food experiences, I thought it would be fun to deviate just a bit from my normal column and share a couple recipes that evoke wonderful memories as “comfort” foods.
One website listed cole slaw as one of the top comfort foods for many people! While that is a stretch for me, here is a recipe that allows you to actually freeze slaw and make it ahead if you happen to still have a lot of cabbage left from your garden this summer. This recipe came from two of my aunts on my father’s side (Miller).
After you make the slaw and pie, just add frozen fish patties (or your favorite fish), potato chips, pickles, and voila—create your family’s own mouth watering food memories.
Frozen Slaw – Quantity for freezing
½ c. water
1 c. vinegar
2 c. sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 small onion
salt to taste or approx. 1 ½ Tbl.
Bring above to a boil and cool. Shred 2 large heads of cabbage, add 1 green and 1 red pepper chopped, 2-4 carrots grated. Mix together. Let stand 1 – 24 hours. The longer it sits the better it gets. Squeeze cabbage “dry” and pour syrup over. Mix well. Freeze in small containers to have “instant” cole slaw. Adjust quantities for smaller amount of cabbage.
Davis Apple pie
Prepare your own favorite pie crust recipe (or write me for mine); or purchase prepared piecrust.
5 c. peeled and sliced tart apples; we prefer Stayman or any tart apple
1 c. sugar
1 Tbl. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix apples and all ingredients in large bowl. Put in pie crust. Protect crust by using foil around edge of pie pan. Bake in 425 degree over for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350-375 degrees for another 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Write to me at: Melodie Davis, Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg VA 22802 or e-mail email@example.com (Please include your paper's name in your response.)
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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