picked up a bottle of “Body Ecology” salad dressing made by the amazing R Thomas restaurant this afternoon at a local food co-op. Tonight for dinner I put it on a massive salad and it was so good that I actually licked the bowl clean. It also really distinctly reminded me of something I’d had before, but I couldn’t place it; something from when I was a kid, when things like flax seed oil wouldn’t have even been on the radar. It tasted really southern, if you can call “southern” a taste. After about ten minutes pacing around the kitchen, I finally thought of it: ham biscuits!
One of those amazing staple Easter & Funerals foods that I loved back then and probably wouldn’t touch now. It was an old family recipe, I think; either my mom’s or my grandmother’s. They had sort of a buttery, mustardy kick to them, and somehow the salad dressing had captured it so well. It was kind of like distilling all those dangerously creamy salads and sauces from Easters and Funerals past into one bottle with nothing wicked in it! I was able to get that wonderful memory association without actually having to eat a ham biscuit or a plate of egg salad! The ingredients are totally different, but the essence is startingly similar.
This is especially exciting to me, because I really love the idea of heirloom things like family recipes. (The only problem with most of the ones in my family is that they start with a cup of heavy cream, but we can work around this.) Two dreams of mine that I intend to pursue (eventually) are, 1. take cooking classes at a raw vegan culinary institute and 2. make a family recipe file. A couple of the recipes I love are already vegan (I could eat about a gallon of my mother’s tabouleh…oh my goodness.), and some of them could probably be made vegan with a few substitutions. As for the others…they may have to be reinvented completely. But what I would love to do is create some new, healthier dishes that capture the regional flavor and comforting essence of the old ones. (Granted, it could be a lifelong project.)
I don’t want to live out the rest of my days getting by on swampy juices (even though I do love a good swampy juice). I really do want to have some comfort foods in the regimen somewhere, but something that’s as comforting to my cells as it is to my memory. I’ve never considered myself much of the southern hostess type, but when people do come around, I want to be able to give them something good to eat– good enough to remember.