This week has been all about comfort foods; I’ve eaten mashed potatoes, homemade mac & cheese, and lots of M&M’s. In fact, I’ve probably ingested more carbs than a person should have in a month.
Earlier in the week I concocted a tuna-noodle casserole for my lunch. I recognize that a lot of people read that and think, “yuck!”, my husband is included in that group which is why I ate it for lunch. But for me, this is one of my favorite comfort foods, one of those foods that brings floods of childhood memories as I cook and eat it.
My Dad and brother don’t like tuna-noodle casserole either, so growing up Mom would make it sometimes when the guys were off camping or both happened to be away from home at dinner time. I always enjoyed it when we ate it at our house, but my most special memories are of eating it with my Ghina and Poppa.
Ghina knew how much I liked the casserole, so every few months when they had it for dinner the phone would ring with an invitation for me to join them. This was a special time because it was just me and my grandparents – no parents, no brother, no cousins – a table set for three.
Entering the house I was greeted by the sound of the timer on their old-fashioned toaster oven clicking away, the smell of the casserole baking, and the sight of Ghina preparing garlic bread to be toasted. I would hang out on the stool in the kitchen, or write on the chalkboard, or play with a few toys until the timer dinged and dinner was ready.
The three of us would take our seats at the table; a family table surrounded by pictures of my Mom and her siblings as children, by mementos of a life lived together for many years. Ghina dished out our dinner. Poppa opened the box of ground black pepper. Slices of garlic toast were passed. A meal was enjoyed.
After dinner was finished and the dishes washed, Ghina and I would sit at the kitchen table and play Chinese checkers. If I was lucky we could get in several games before I had to head home to get ready for bed and school the next day.
There were many, many dinners like this each consisting of a plate of tuna-noodle casserole, a slice of garlic bread, and a special time with my grandparents. Over the years the occurences have lost their individuality and melded into a composite in my mind. Such a special memory, and it all started with a pan of tuna-noodle casserole.