The power of a sensory memory never ceases to amaze me, and they remain the source of the most forceful and influential taste experiences.
The individual who most inspired me to love food remains the one person who was also the most powerful source of love in my life - my grandmother. She stayed home to raise me and was my caretaker in every way. She cooked, cleaned and played with the three of us growing up as only a doting grandmother can.
The food memory that is the most intense for me comes from her “famous” chicken and dumplings.
When I asked my mother how she made it when I was in my early 20’s, she laughed so hard I thought she’d fall off her chair. She explained it was the high-brow combination of canned Pillsbury biscuits, and Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup. I was floored. Sure enough, when I made it to her specifications, it was an instant transport as if through a time warp right back to our kitchen counter with those kind eyes looking on while I swung my legs, feeling completely and totally loved, nourished (albeit in a calorie-dense way) and full of joy.