“We all have our food memories, some good and some bad. The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting,” John S. Allen (author of The Omnivorous Mind).
Cooked Cheese. That’s what I called a grilled cheese sandwich as a child. It had to be Bunny Bread with either Velveeta or Kraft Singles. “Bunny Bread…that’s what I said,” is a jingle, or ear worm, still ringing in my head.
“Morning Glory! Whatcha want for breakfast this morning?” Mamma would ask from the kitchen.
“Whatcha Got?” I’d respond.
“Well, I’ve got scrambled eggs, pancakes, cooked cheese…” she would call out most everything in the kitchen, all the while she was grilling my obsession.
“Humm, cooked cheese sounds good!” I never understood how she got breakfast on the table so quickly.
These days, I still love a good “Cooked Cheese.” Although, my bread and cheese choices are a bit elevated. Click here to get my Rosemary Bread recipe. Last weekend was the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival, and we definitely stocked up. If you couldn’t make it out, head over to The Bloomy Rind and Kathleen will hook you up with a cheese most suited for your idea of the perfect “Cooked Cheese.”
This weekend I’ll be heading to the Music City Food and Wine Festival. Please follow me on twitter @mdcorbin and instagram @melcorbin for some of my favorite chefs who give a damn about where our food comes from. I’ll also share those stories in my new column at 12th and Broad called “Shake The Hand That Fed You.” At last year’s Music City Food and Wine Festival, I asked everyone I spoke with the same question: What food from your childhood do you still crave and make for yourself to this day? And here’s what they had to say:
TIM LOVE of White Elephant:
“I still love me a Little Debbie oatmeal pie from time to time and how can you ever go wrong with nacho cheese Doritos!”
“Okonomiyaki! This is the only dish I cook at home and always love.”
JONATHAN WAXMAN of Adele’s:
“My first foray into home cookery was a recipe from Sunset Magazine:”
Hot Dog Tacos
4 fresh corn tortillas
4 slices American cheese
2 hot dogs (split in half length wide)
1. Roll a slice of cheese around one 1/2 hot dog, place on a tortilla, roll up and skewer with a toothpick. Repeat.
2. Back 350 oven cook until hot dog is cooked
MIKE LATA of Fig in Charleston:
“I think I ate Quaker’s maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal five times a week. Today, I use steel cut oats, muscovado, New Hampshire maple syrup, and butter.”
LEVON WALLACE of Proof on Main:
“One of my earliest food memories (and ongoing cravings) is this really simple dish of steaming hot rice topped with a dab of butter, a fried egg and lots of cracked pepper. As simple as it sounds, it has this heady aroma that instantly takes me back to mornings before school. Just thinking about it fills me with a warm feeling of pure comfort. I’ve tried multiple times to get my kids on the rice bowl wagon and they just won’t have it. Which is fine…more for me! The only difference is that now as a ‘grown-up’ I add a couple dashes of Tabasco.”
BETH LISTON of Dark Horse
“I think most of the things I crave or think about from childhood are things my sister and I made with our grandmothers. We were really fortunate that all four of our grandparents moved to the same town as us when I was about 5 years old so we spent a lot time baking and playing with our grandmas. My Grandma Clara made the best croissant sandwiches, I don’t know why they were so good, but I think about them all the time! We baked with her a lot so I have very fond memories of making chocolates and cookies with her, but especially these chocolate covered caramel saltine cookies. I think I’m going to have to go make some now!
With my Grandma Vi my favorite thing we made with her were raviolis. To this day we still only make them once a year, for Christmas Eve dinner, and we use my Grandma Vi’s mom’s recipe, along with the ravioli cutter that my great-great grandparents brought over from Italy. When my great grandma was still alive there were a couple years of four generations in the kitchen making the raviolis together!”
JAKE STRANG of 1808 Grille
“One thing that comes to mind is something that my Polish great grandmother used to make on a fairly regular basis. It was a simple dish of sliced cucumbers with sour cream, white vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Once they are mixed together, the liquid that is created from the cucumbers starting to break down makes for an amazing sauce that was a perfect “sopping sauce” with her pan fried pork chops. The black pepper (and plenty of it) is such a great combination with the freshness of the cucumbers and the acidity of the sour cream and vinegar. It’s something that will always be a comfort food for me and my family and it always brings back such great memories of her and my childhood. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden craving…”
Chris Carter of Porter Road Butcher
“My wife, Kelly, is vegan. So, when she’s out of town I make a big pan of chicken and rice all for myself.”
James Peisker of Porter Road Butcherloves a pan of brownies just like his Grandma used to make.
Brandon Frohne Chef Owner of Forage South
“We were pretty poor growing up. Potted meat on saltines was a snack staple. To this day I like to make a mean snack out of this with a little shot of my homemade hot sauce, as long as I don’t kiss Lessie afterwards,” Brandon smiles referring to his beautiful wife and co-founder of Forage South Culinary Products.
Scott Witherow Chocolatier and Founder of Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company
Scott didn’t hesitate when remembering his childhood favorite, “To this day my family makes smores over a wood burning fire on a nightly basis.”
Dave Pickerell Master Distiller at Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey
“I grew up in the slums,” Pickerell remembers his early adult years spent in the army, “In our c-rations there would be cocoa beverage powder and non-dairy creamer.” Pickerell would make a brownie batter by combining these powders and a splash or two of water. Humm, sounds like a fun dessert pairing with a snort of Whistle Pig!
Steve Wright COO and Head Brewer of Jackalope Brewing Company
Way back when, this little brewer in the making loved Cheerios. Nowadays, Steve still enjoys the whole grain aspect of Cheerios. “I can eat the crap out of Cheerios,” Wright grins as he poured me a frosty glass of Thunder Ann- American Pale Ale.
Carl Meier President/Founder/Brewmaster of Black Abbey Brewing Company
Carl loves his mama’s bread and butter pickles recipe. I’ll be testing that one out in the kitchen soon. So, stay tuned…