While driving back from getting my oil changed this morning, I was listening to a local MPR show on the topic of "food nostalgia." The host was asking her guests and listeners what foods from the past brought back memories for them. Some remembered terrific and tasty dishes made by (usually) mom or grandma, while others recalled some things that were really not all that great but still had warm and wonderful connections simply because they were made and presented with love, or because they were attached to significant events. Driving along, I flashed on a food nostalgia memory of my own - Frosting Hotdogs.
When I was little, once a week my mom would take me to dance class after school, and while we were gone, my dad would get our evening meal, then known as "supper" ready, to have when we got back. On this particular night, he was going to fry up some hot dogs, using lard, as we did back in the day before we all lived in fear of the fat. The lard we used came from the butcher and was simply kept in a dish in the refrigerator with one of those little plastic hats on it that look like shower caps. We stored our leftovers in the same fashion, and that day beneath a hat, in addition to the lard, there was also some vanilla frosting left from something or another, and dad, moving fast to get those dogs on the table for the hungry dancer, grabbed the frosting dish and fried the hotdogs up in that instead of the lard.
Once we got over the surprise we realized we liked them, in fact, they were really good! They were crisp and sweet, kind of like a glazed ham, and definitely an upgrade over your plain hotdog. I'm sure they were not very high on the health scale with the extra sugar and all, but then we are talking hot dogs fried in lard here! So the frosted hotdogs went into our family cooking roster as a now and again treat. When there would be a need for frosting, sometimes mom would make a little extra on purpose so we could have them. I've made them a few times as an adult, but they are not as good somehow.
When it comes to what feeds us, whether in nostalgia or the here and now, maybe it has more to do with the who, when, and where as much as the what of it.