I grew up on five acres; we had a large garden that my sister and I helped our mom tend, a couple rabbits, some pigs, cattle that would be trucked in to graze the large field next to our house, and an old black lab named Talc who was so gentle and tolerant of two small kids that he would let us ride his back like a pony. I remember when my sister and I made the connection that the pigs in the pen were gone and all of a sudden we had an abundance of bacon, sausage, and pork chops in our freezer. My sister refused to eat the meat, but I remember thinking, “More for me!”
I remember walking barefoot out to the garden, warm dirt slipping between my toes, to pluck ripe green beans off of the vines and toss them into a metal strainer. We would then haul our bounty inside, rinse them in the kitchen sink, and get to work snapping the ends off of them while we sat on top of the breakfast bar, brown knees and elbows as far as the eye could see.
I remember grey, drizzly mornings, sitting next to the wood stove, hands wrapped around a steaming bowl of Cream of Wheat, always with a pat of butter, a bit of milk, and some dark brown sugar.
I remember my dad and uncle getting up before dawn to go hunting for deer and then the deer steaks that followed. My aunt and uncle lived next door to us and one day when we were visiting, I stood in the shed with my uncle while he prepared and strung up the deer jerky. I loved that jerky—it was tough enough that I got to work my jaw satisfyingly by gnawing on each salty, slightly gamey piece for quite a bit.
I remember sizzling hot July days when we would put on long sleeves, jeans, socks, and shoes, hike down the embankment to the creek that flowed behind our house, and pick wild blackberries from the bushes that grew alongside the water. One of us usually ended up getting a mean case of poison oak. It was blazing hot and we all got scratched by the thorns, but what I remember most clearly are the pounds of dark, juicy blackberries that would be languishing in the freezer for months and the blackberry cobblers that mom would bake. By the time the cobbler was done baking, we would be salivating puddles on the floor due to the aroma that had overtaken the house. The cobbler would come out of the oven golden-brown with a thick, biscuit-like crust and sweet, syrupy berries hidden beneath. This treat would be eaten warm and it never lasted more than two days.
These are some of my food memories. They play a significant role in why I photograph my food, write about food, and love to cook. What are your food memories?