Around our house, I do most of the cooking, but my husband always makes the grilled cheese sandwiches.
He’s really good at it. I’m not sure how two people, both using the same bread and butter and cheese, can make completely different tasting sandwiches, but the fact is, his grilled cheese tastes better than mine, and even the kids can tell the difference.
He tells me it’s all in the technique, which includes never using a spatula to flip the sandwiches. He flips them with a butter knife, the way his grandma did.
I never met Granny Herra, but her cooking is the stuff of family legend. Her chocolate chip cookies are particularly legendary, since apparently no one has been able to duplicate them. My sister-in-law even made a video of Granny baking chocolate chip cookies to try and nail down that elusive technique.
It’s funny, the little things from childhood we carry with us, things like flipping a sandwich with a butter knife. When he talks about eating grilled cheese at his grandma’s house, I’m reminded of eating Kraft macaroni and cheese with hot dogs at my great-aunt’s house as a child, or walking to her house after school on a bitterly cold day, knowing there would be peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches on Ritz crackers and mugs of hot chocolate.
I wonder sometimes what my children will remember when they are adults, what they will be nostalgic for. Will it be the neighborhood “adventures” their grandma takes them on when she babysits? Will it be the songs I sing when I put them to bed? Or will those things pass entirely from their memories?
Some things I forgot came flooding back when I became a parent myself. Phrases slip from your lips that you forgot you ever knew, or you read a book you thought was new to you but find the illustrations look strangely familiar.
There are other things my brother, only one year older, remembers that I do not. And many of the things I do remember seem so random and unimportant, I can’t explain why they are imprinted on my mind.
It’s funny and strange that the things that make me nostalgic are 60s-era smocks like my great-aunt used to wear, or glasses with movie characters drawn on them, which we got from Burger King – random bits of daily life. But I can look at family photos, some of which picture me, and not recognize the people.
When I browse flea markets, I sometimes wonder if Mattel realized when it was churning out Barbie dolls in the 1960s that one day adults would pay hundreds of dollars for those dolls and keep them under glass. My husband is a collector of 1980s Transformer toys; my brother, Star Wars memorabilia. As I sort through my children’s toys in preparation for a garage sale, I wonder which of these things I see as cheap plastic junk will one day find a home in a display cabinet in the home of a collector thrilled at his or her acquisition.
There is no way to know which of the things I say or do today will pass away, and which will be recalled by someone at my funeral – an incentive to live with care.
Enjoy your MidWeek.