Food was a big part of my childhood because my grandma was a fabulous cook. Her mother emigrated from Sweden and cooked for President Woodrow Wilson. Grandma knew a lot of her recipes. My other grandmother was not a cook, but enjoyed fresh food from her garden and local food spots.
Here are my 10 favorite flavors from my grandmothers’ kitchens:
- Swedish meatballs from Grandma’s kitchen. So creamy!
- Corn from my grandfather’s fields. He insisted that the water be boiling before he left the house to get on the tractor, pick the ears, shuck them and pop them in the pot. He believed, if more than five minutes passed from when they were picked to when they hit the hot water, their sweetness was diminished.
- Tomatoes, still warm from the sun in Grandmother’s garden, peeled and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
- Harlee’s meatball sandwiches from the store around the corner from the violin shop. Harlee’s, an East Coast chain of restaurants, is now long gone, but those sandwiches were a religious experience.
- Grandma’s pot roast. Super simple, but the gravy melted the meat.
- Cannolis from Little Italy in Baltimore.
- Soft-shelled crab sandwiches from Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore.
- Grandma’s spaghetti. So thick that the sauce coated every noodle. The exact flavor of the sauce made from her garden tomatoes has never been replicated with my own.
- Crab cakes handmade by Grandma using lump crabmeat from the Chesapeake Bay.
- Butterflied sautéed shrimp with Grandma’s homemade tartar sauce. This was my birthday meal as a child, and I still try to recreate it every February 9 for myself. My tartar sauce falls far short of hers.