I would bet that almost everyone has some favorite food from childhood, likely made by his or her mother, or maybe grandmother or aunt.
I have often said that I would give a great deal of money for a spiced ham sandwich and fountain Coke from Gray’s Drug Store, perhaps followed up by one of their unmatchable chocolate milkshakes.
Alas, they are long gone and cannot be duplicated because part of the flavor was the history of the long-seasoned grill plus the skill and care of the staff.
But I also have a couple of things I miss closer to home.
Specifically, I long for my mother’s fried okra and her onion rings (yes, we did pronounce it okree).
No big deal, you might say. Just go to the internet and find the recipes.
Well, Google has failed me. I can find no recipe that seems right and no photo that even remotely looks like my mother’s okra, much less onion rings.
That doesn’t seem reasonable, but it’s true.
My mother’s okra was cooked with a sort of translucent crust that held it together, with no cornmeal or, I believe, even flour. The case of the onion rings is similar: battered but not breaded. Again, reason would dictate that I could duplicate the onion rings at least, but no dice.
Years after my last failed attempt, I tried the okra again this weekend but what I ended up with was a sort of mass that resembled a poorly crafted alien life form from a 1950s science fiction movie.
So, on a point of personal privilege, if anyone knows how they fried okra for dinner on the grounds at Hopewell Church in the 1950s and 1960s, please let me know. I fear the recipe is gone along with the wonderful women who used to make it.
And if you don’t have one of the magic recipes, maybe you have a favorite one of your own. Send it; that’s way better than striking out.
And millennials and other younger types, heed my words: Don’t take what you are served at home for granted. Write down those recipes no matter how mundane you may thing the dishes are now.
If you don’t, you will almost certainly regret it later.