12 Most Nostalgic Foods From My Childhood

12 Most Nostalgic Foods From My Childhood

Molly Campbell’s post here last week about how a guy is always tied to his mother’s cooking made me realize that there are a lot of foods from my childhood that I hold sacred without really thinking about it. Some of them are sort of weird, but some of them might resonate with you and your memories too. So let’s travel down my childhood lane and see what foods are the key to my heart (and stomach!).

1. Poached egg on toast

I still remember cooking up a poached egg and a friend saying, “Yow, that looks gross!” And you know, it does, kind of. However, whenever I was feeling icky when I was a kid, my mom would cook me up a poached egg on toast. The egg was always perfectly juicy, and my mom took that extra mom-type step of cutting the whole thing up into little squares. Nummers!

2. Sausage gravy on biscuits

When I was little I spent a lot of weekends with my grandma, and inevitably she would serve up sausage gravy and biscuits. My mom and I agree that there is not a better sausage gravy out there than what my grandma used to make. I am not sure what her secret was, but boy was it delish!

3. Creamed herring

I know, this one might be tough for some of you to digest (literally and figuratively), but creamed herring tends to be a staple at Jewish brunches. We used to go over to my grandparents’ house for brunch and creamed herring was always on the table. It’s a weird taste for sure, but somehow I loved it from the very earliest days I tried it.

4. Chef Boyardee pizza

Not only do these pizzas always come out great (not too doughy, not too salty), the process of making pizzas when you’re a kid is super fun. Of course, I always wanted to be the one to oil the pan (I’d dump half the bottle of oil on the pan) or roll out the dough (stretch it so thin it would get holy, and not in a sacred sense), but even just putting on the cheese was a treat.

5. Oodles & Noodles

Now called Ramen, this great love also traces back to my grandma (and my lean college and grad school years). She would sit me down on the couch, put a TV tray over my lap, and give me a giant plastic bowl of oodles & noodles. I never knew how she made it so fast. That secret I did figure out, eventually.

6. Rice, onions and chicken livers

Now you’re really thinking I’m weird! This recipe is one my dad used to make for just us 2. My mom and brother won’t touch the stuff. He says the recipe comes from his grandma. It always seemed like I couldn’t get any hungrier and then finally it would be ready to go. I’m drooling just thinking about how rich the taste was. Mmmm.

7. Dad’s spaghetti

My parents always made their spaghetti sauce from scratch – my mom says everything my dad knows about spaghetti sauce is thanks to her, and he doesn’t tend to argue with that. However, over the years my dad took over primary spaghetti responsibilities until the meal evolved into Dad’s spaghetti. I can’t really say what makes it so good, but he always gets the sauce just right.

8. Dad’s beef barley vegetable soup

Now this is actually a recipe from a cookbook that I’ve made myself, but let me tell you something, this soup is perfect for when you have one of those awful winter colds. It’s hearty, it’s tasty, it’s tomatoey, and those little pearls of barley just add something to the mixture. I remember dad slaving over that soup many a Saturday night. I would “help” by watching :)

9. Tuna casserole

A school night standard, there was always something stupifyingly satisfying about this dish. All you do (though I didn’t know this when I was a little kid) is mix up a can of cream of mushroom soup with a can of tuna, dump it over cooked pasta, and bake it till it’s warmed through. But it’s so good, and I realize in retrospect it was great for my parents because it was easy to cook. In the summer we’d have our family’s special iced tea with it, and that combo of tastes still immediately recalls summers of my youth.

10. Stove top oatmeal

I remember being a kindergardener and feeling all nervous and cold and icky about going to school. Then my mom or dad would take out this old little yellow pot and that little silo of Quaker oatmeal, and I knew what was coming my way. Hot, steaming oatmeal with just the right and perfect touch of brown sugar and milk. How did they get those measurements right every single time??

11. Texas sheet cake

If you have ever had Texas sheet cake or anything remotely resembling Texas sheet cake, you know that it is one of the most amazing creations on the face of the planet. Deep, dark cake with chocolate in the middle and chocolate icing and walnuts on top – it’s really too good to be true. My grandma used to whip these things up in what seemed like 5 minutes, so I always assumed it was easy. Well my mom and I tried to bake one up a few years ago and I swear part of the recipe is to stand on your head while mixing the batter with one hand and stirring the icing with another. It’s a very complex recipe and the timing needs to be spot on. Pretty amazing that my grandma could do it flawlessly all by herself while I was asking her where my invisible friends were!

12. Thanksgiving meal

I am still very lucky that I get to enjoy our family’s recipes every Thanksgiving. My mom uses family recipes for the stuffing, for the pies, for the biscuits, and for many other things too. Of course, Thanksgiving is half thankfulness and half nostalgia anyway. You enjoy being with those around you and you think about those who can no longer make it to the table with you, at least in this realm. I have memories spanning back as far as I can remember about this holiday and the corresponding food. May it ever be so.

So there you have it! Twelve of my most nostalgic foods. Now, the real question is, what are yours?

Photo courtesy of Calsidyrose licensed via Creative Commons

Margie Clayman

http://www.margieclayman.com/

Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman) is the Director of Client Development at her family's 58-year-old marketing firm, Clayman Advertising, Inc. Margie is the resident blogger at www.margieclayman.com and is the resident librarian at www.thebloglibrary.com. Margie's writing has been featured on pushingsocial.com, problogger.net, convinceandconvert.com, and dannybrown.me. Margie has recently published an e-book called The ABC’s of Marketing Myths. Margie is still not used to talking about herself in the third person but is working on it.

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41 comments
sharongreenthal
sharongreenthal

Regarding #3: I would have to add lox, cream cheese and bagels. There's nothing that says Sunday morning like these do!

thefarmerslife
thefarmerslife

This is funny. My mom made a book a couple years ago for my Dad and his sisters called "Crap We Ate" or something similar. It has pictures and recipes of all the things like this they ate when they were kids. Trust me this one does actually taste good and my Dad you to make a snack of it occasionally. Put some peanut butter and karo syrup on a plate. Mix. Eat.

3dmodelsart
3dmodelsart

"When I was little I spent a lot of weekends with my grandma, and inevitably she would serve up sausage gravy and biscuits. My mom and I agree that there is not a better sausage gravy out there than what my grandma used to make. I am not sure what her secret was, but boy was it delish!"

Nobody can cook that good like grandmas can. It's a real mystery. Mmmm i would like to try that sausage : )

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Emmalish
Emmalish

My dad used to make mac n' cheese with tuna and peas. Not my favorite but it brings back so many sweet memories. He has since graduated to Split pea soup and rack of lamb.

jodinesplace
jodinesplace

Here are some of mine: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, oreos, making and eating cut out cookies for Christmas, special Christmas cookies, and all the traditional meals for holidays.

I feel the same way with poached egg on toast, my mom did the same for me on my bad days.

My not so favorite , was my mom's version of home made pizza bread during lean times, we used hot dogs as pepperonis, and that goverment cheese. It always smelled like great pizza, but it was that great tasting.

My mom tried stuffed onions, peppers, and tomatoes, that turned out to be the grossest meal ever. It smelled gross while cooking, looked gross and tasted gross. My mom pretended to like it ,but later on as an adult, I found out she didn't really like it too.

Then there was my mom's onion soup mix burgers and her homemade ketcup with chunks of onion and cinnamon.

The burgers always smelled great grilling but not so great tasting to me.

Then the ketchup I don't know where my mom got the idea for cinnamom in ketchup, it just didn't work for me.

I had a problem with onions when was a kid anyway. That was my main problem.

I can handle these foods now.

amydostafford
amydostafford

Delish article, Margie! My tastebuds just took a stroll down memory lane - both elementary school cafeteria meals, in addition to the family Thanksgiving feast! Can't wait for the traditional meal - just around the corner.

dabarlow
dabarlow

We had rice, chicken livers and gizzards! I'd push aside the livers... They need to be cooked in a pressure cooker then gravy made from the juices. Never had creamed herring... else our folks must have gone to the same culinary school!

ItsToni
ItsToni

So many memories brought back by your article! My parents both grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio - home of the Cincinnati chili parlors. So, naturally, my mother made lots of cincy chili (which is NOTHING like a Texas chili that most are used to, btw.) I remember walking in from school, smelling that chili and I would literally, start gagging and running for my room. LOL Now? It's one of my favorite things ever; I make it from scratch all of the time. :)

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

OY! I think of my late mother's equally sad culinary efforts - but with love.

dbvickery
dbvickery

@fondalo @12most Absolutely, yum! Mine was fried (chicken, pork tenderloin, venison, steak) w/gravy or grilled (brisket, chicken, sausage)

ProjectQuinn
ProjectQuinn

I remember that tuna casserole! We had it on Friday nights - and sometimes, my mother would put crushed potato chips on top. Sounds weird, but I liked it as a kid :)

But my favorite childhood food memory involves Sunday night deli sandwiches - hot pastrami on rye with mustard - yum!

CynthiaKSeymour
CynthiaKSeymour

Chicken & dumplings, gumbo, peach ice cream & meatloaf....

BrandFlair
BrandFlair

Great topic and post Margie. When I was a kid in Seattle we used to pick raspberries and blackberries in the woods behind our house. My mom and grandma would make the best berry cobbler! Mmmmm!

RachelTaylorChi
RachelTaylorChi

I absolutely love poached eggs on toast, yum! This article is great - I can even dig the creamed herring :) Thanks for sharing!

andranicoara
andranicoara

@margieclayman Great topic, my native food was quite different though, instead of poached egg on toast i had eggy bread. Thanks for memories

dbvickery
dbvickery

I love #2 and #12. I have also enjoyed passing along those generational recipes to my own kids...mostly involving frying or grilling/smoking, but then again I'm Texan #HookEm

margieclayman
margieclayman

@jodinesplace I used to not like onions too. I still hate cutting them up. That whole crying thing is a real bummer.

Stuffed peppers are an acquired taste, I think. My bubbin used to make stuffed peppers and they were really really good, but I've had some that were gross too. Ya just never know with foods like that :)

dabarlow
dabarlow

@ProjectQuinn my Mom would do crushed chips too, some times cheese to add variety to the dish.

dbvickery
dbvickery

@fondalo @12most And something tells me that it wasn't Chef Boyardee ;) Good for you, Robert and I know you like a good Vino w/it!

dbvickery
dbvickery

@margieclayman And we had pork roast (again w/the gravy) almost every Sunday...unless it was ham. Homemade macaroni and cheese. Generally had lemon or coconut pie every week...or my favorite blackberry cobbler. Homemade rolls or biscuits. And my grandmother made me eat breakfast every morning!! And since I grew up in South Texas, we ate a lot of what we hunted or fished for. I don't do any of that now, but I grew up with a steady dose of catfish and wild game. No need for Slim Jims for me (anybody seen the Bill Engvall routine on slim jims?)

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