We wore a trail through the field to my aunt’s and uncle’s house from our almost daily visits. Situated just behind our house with gardens, barns, and pastures between us, we made a path connecting our backyards. While our yard was filled with a see-saw and Barbie dolls, theirs had baseballs, footballs, and a basketball hoop. Their playroom was filled with Matchbox cars and Mad magazines which always was more interesting to me than the baby dolls that were in ours.
Throughout my life, I thought of their home as my third – only behind my own house and my Grandmothers.
My aunt always had supper ready by 6:00 and you could guarantee it was delicious. Her stove would be filled with pots and pans brimming with vegetables from their garden. Beans, peas, potatoes, corn, okra – everything my uncle had worked the season to grow and my aunt had worked to preserve. You could always find a story with every meal you had with them. Stories of battling Japanese beetles, knowing how to tell if the corn was ready to pick, and trying out a new way of planting and staking tomatoes. Stories of my aunt making vegetable soup with her mother as a young girl and “putting up” more vegetables than her freezer would hold. At the time, I was more interested in hearing my cousins talking about their day or telling a joke they’d heard at school. Now, stories of gardening and cooking are the stories that I hear my sister and I telling one another – just a different generation of them.
Just as those stories weren’t what I was pining for as a young girl, my Mama also made a meal that was one of my Daddy’s favorite and was far from my own. I could smell it cooking as I walked down the steps and into our kitchen and would try to think quickly of some reason why I should eat any other supper but the one she had prepared.
Just like those stories, it is a meal that I find myself enjoying now. It’s not one that I prepare often, although it is definitely delicious, but one that I prepare when a deep sense of nostalgia hits me and I need the comfort of a meal my Daddy loved.
It makes me enjoy it all the more.
Do you have a dish you surely didn’t want to try as a child that now you love? I’d love to hear about it. Tell me in the comments below.