I’m writing this letter from the kitchen in the house where I grew up, looking out a window I’ve looked out thousands of times before.
There are piles of boxes in the living room and a garage full of old furniture, dishes and posters I brought home from my college apartment. People I don’t know are digging through the clutter to find their own treasures, most of which my mom priced for $1—maybe $2.
This house, the one my dad designed and built himself when he was younger than I am now, is magic. I literally took my first steps in the hallway. I learned to cook in this kitchen. I had my wedding reception in the backyard, the dark Wisconsin north woods as the backdrop, our basketball court the dance floor.
My parents are eager for their next step, a new adventure after 41 years putting down roots here, tearing up a few, leaving the others for the next couple to build from.
It’s time. And nothing lasts forever. At least, that’s what I told my 10-year-old when he cried because he finally understood he’d never get to go back to grandma and grandpa’s old house.
Memories can be so visceral. I remember the sounds and smells and tastes of my childhood so vibrantly sitting here in this kitchen. And that’s why authenticity matters.
Recently, Patricia Cobe worked with our Chefs’ Council to find those flavors and dishes that resonate with diners from the senior living segment to colleges and universities, K-12 and beyond. So even when your customers are far from that place they called home, you help remind them. And that’s magic, too.
So many of you are working with the folks you feed, connecting with diners of different cultures and backgrounds, working to develop those authentic flavors that remind them of where they came from. Take a look at some of that inspiring cooking. You might even see something there that reminds you of sitting around the family table when you were young.
In a few days, I will say goodbye to this place that will always belong to me. But whenever it rains, or I hear a cardinal’s song or smell a simmering pot of tomato sauce on the stove, I’ll get to say hello again. It won’t take much to bring it all back.
What are some of your most memorable dishes? Reach out and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of iStock