I got a chance to ask Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club; And her most recent foodie geared novel Comfort Food , a very personal question.
RC: How do you feel food memories from childhood shape us into adults?
|Image © Kate Jacobs.|
I love birthday cake,
just like the main character Gus in my new novel Comfort Food, and I remember my sister decorating a cake that looked like a pizza with all the toppings for my fifth grade sleepover party. That was the birthday I got a puppy, Pepsi, who was my first Springer Spaniel and one of my dearest friends ever.
It’s all connected for me: the cake, the friends, the puppy. That was one of the best days of my life!
And I love to recall having fresh fruit pie at my grandmother’s house
Made with cherries that my brothers and sisters had just picked off the trees in her yard. Amazing. Those are the meals you wish you could fly back in a time machine and savor again and again, and also enjoy the company of family who aren’t here anymore.
But sometimes food isn’t just about family. Sometimes it’s about culture and identity.
I remember how, growing up in Canada, I always thought of S’mores as being particularly American, and as such I was fascinated by them. Now, I was never a Girl Guide (that’s Canadian for a Girl Scout) and so I didn’t go camping and so on. Instead, I saw Archie & Betty talking about them in the comics: It was just this American cultural go-to that seemed so different to me. Well, this was something I had to get in on, you know?
I recall trying to make some in the microwave on July 4: I was always a very pro-American Canadian. (And now I’m American and Canadian, so it’s really worked out for me.) But, anyway, back to my little experiment, which even involved a trip biking to the corner store to use some allowance money to invest in some very American Hershey chocolate. I took some graham crackers from the cupboard, put on several squares of chocolate, little mini marshmallows because that’s what we had at home, and topped it off with another graham cracker. I wrapped up the whole thing tightly in waxed paper and cooked the hell out of it the microwave. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. Definitely gooey, definitely sweet. Though a S’more lacks a certain something something when it doesn’t have the roasting from the open fire.
I must say my early culinary tastes were quite influenced by comic books
I read a lot of and all types of comic books as a kid. I also saw a Dennis the Menace that had an activity page that included a tip on pickling carrots. The whole gist was that if you put carrots in a jar of pickles and let them soak overnight, the carrots would taste pickled. Well, duh: That’s what my 34-year-old self says. My 8-year-old self was utterly entranced as though Julia Child herself had made the suggestion. I would get very upset if my mother did not save the juice when we finished a jar of pickles. After all, I needed that for my Dennis-the-Menace carrots! Making those pickles felt like a sign of independence and worldliness: I had my own special “thing.”
Food is so much more than just calories and nutrition.
It’s also captures a moment, an emotion, with taste and aroma. And feel. Think of the sensation of a melting Popsicle running down your fingers on a hot summer day and try not to smile. Food can be good times, you know? And that’s what I wanted to capture in Comfort Food. This feeling of laughter and celebration and happiness.
Related Posts From Renaissance Culinaire: