My sudden craving for Worcestershire sauce-and-butter- encrusted cereal is a hint about my heritage. Maybe in techno-America, the idea of “heritage” is almost obsolete, except that it isn’t. My iPhone 3G will be nostalgia in a year or two, so hearkening back to the “old days” of baking Chex Mix with my sisters for the holidays really does show the history of my family– especially my geographical identity.
Food follows and makes me who I am. In Iowa, I was unseasoned dinners– charred meat and potatoes, canned and frozen veggies. I was simple and fast–a recipe made from the combination of a harried mother of six blended with her despise and ineptitude in the kitchen. The result: heat and serve Salisbury steaks, canned spinach, powdered mashed potatoes.
She didn’t mind the baking however, so at holidays we had old pretzel and chip tins full of Chex Mix, cookies and homemade caramel corn. She served her own sweet tooth.
My years in Kansas City make me long for a proper donut when I am sugar-starved ( Thanks Lamars) and pork dumplings and pu-ehr when I am lonely for friends.
My years in London make me long for just the right balance of warm beer, vinegar and salted crisps, and toasted mates.
I am curious to see what longing my years in Connecticut will create. My suspicion is that it will eventually take me full circle: that the hardened shell here of natural unneighborliness — and the stark mediocrity of the food, no better and no worse than my Midwestern roots — will eventually lead me home.
Home, where my Chex Mix’s baking…