Wickeds, in the run up to the most food-centered holiday we have, what is a meal or a treat that consistently brings you joy? Is it something from childhood that still holds that magic or something you’ve developed a taste for as an adult? Tell us about it using the most sensory adjectives you have. And then tell us about a food that sparks joy for one of your characters.
Sherry: You all know that I don’t like to cook, but for some reason seven years ago (or so) I decided I wanted to learn how to make chicken Marsala. I found a “light” recipe, made some changes (the first version didn’t have enough sauce), and it’s now a family favorite. So it’s no surprise that Sarah Winston (who also isn’t much of a cook and left to her own devices makes Fluffernutter sandwiches) also learns to make chicken Marsala in Sell Low, Sweet Harriet. And it’s good–eventually! Art often imitates life.
Julie: This holds true for me, and for all of my protagonists. Pie, specifically apple pie. My grandmother taught me how, and I’ve passed it on to my nieces. Apple pie is great for Thanksgiving dinner, but is also perfect for breakfast, for an afternoon pick-me-up and for a late night snack. It can be made a variety of ways depending on the food allergies for the family. Pie is the perfect food.
Edith/Maddie: Oh, Julie, I can’t agree more about apple pie. My sky-high version (crust made with butter, apples unpeeled) is rather famous among the people I know, and I always make at least one for Thanksgiving to serve next to the pumpkin and pecan pies. But for this post I have to say traditional Japanese sushi (no avocado, no mayo!). It’s a perfect food, clean, delicious, piquant. I sometimes make it at home and am never without nori and wasabi in the pantry plus candied ginger in the fridge. Note to self: put sushi rice on the shopping list for a Christmas feast. Cece Barton lived in Japan for a few years when her daughter was tiny, and Cece also happens to love sushi.
Liz: This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone but as an Italian I grew up loving pasta and eating it at least twice a week. Even after many years of being meat, gluten and dairy free, I still go to pasta as my comfort food. I just got used to eating gluten-free pasta – and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not good!
Barb: So fun to have this question this week when I am digging out recipes in preparation for Thanksgiving. I have my mother’s recipe for dressing and also gravy, handwritten by me on stationery with the address where we lived in Brighton, MA from 1976-79. I have an email from 2001 with my mom’s directions for my grandmother Ross’s Depression era Corn and Turkey Chowder. And the recipe for my grandmother McKim’s yellow turnips. (Really rutabagas.) The recipe for my mother’s apple pie appears as Vee Snugg’s in Musseled Out. We’ll also be having my husband Bill’s Oyster stuffing which appears in Shucked Apart. (Yes, two kinds of stuffing for 9 people, 3 of whom are kids who I’m not even sure will eat stuffing.) Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll also be making 3 kinds of my grandmother McKim’s Christmas cookies because it’s the only time before the holiday I’ll have all three of my granddaughters together. Nostalgia, tradition, joy.
Jessie: Next time that we all get together maybe we should plan a meal around all of these recipes! Perhaps my favorite food in the world is a particular toasted cheese sandwich. Pumpernickel bread, a lushly ripe slice of tomato, pungent, grainy mustard, and the sharpest of cheddar cheese. Mayo on the outside of the bread to brown it to perfection. Patience beyond measure as the heat must be no higher than medium. A lid on for the first side, lid removed once it is flipped. Divine!
As for dessert, it is passion fruit mousse. I used to have it a Brazilian restaurant years ago. Ever since they closed my sister in law makes it and brings it to me as an occasional indulgence. With its puckery bright fruitiness playing off the rich, silkiness of the cream it is the perfect balance of flavors!
Readers: Tell us about a food where a taste or sniff brings you joy and why.