Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, March 4

Gapers Block

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charlie / August 20, 2008 7:48 AM

French Fried Shrimp

It was basically the only thing I would order in a restaurant as a kid.

Cheerios as well but they mostly went up my nose.

Orion / August 20, 2008 8:02 AM

I grew up on American army bases in Germany until I was 10. I loved getting kinder eggs from local german shops. Basically a wonderful hollow chocolate egg with a toy inside.

demonsentcrooks / August 20, 2008 8:54 AM

I remember having pop (soda, for you east coast transplants) for the very first time--the sweetness of the sugary syrup, the way the bubbles tickled my throat going down, and thinking, "What glorious nectar of the gods has been bestowed upon me?" (ok, maybe not those exact words). It was Dr. Pepper, I recall, circa 1974...

Today, I'm not much of a carbonated beverage consumer, unless it's mixed with alcohol, of course.

sb / August 20, 2008 9:22 AM

my earliest memory (food or otherwise) is eating canned pears and cottage cheese at our place in war, wv. i've been told i can't possibly remember this, i would've been 2.5 - 3, but i do.

Billi D / August 20, 2008 9:30 AM

Oh man, so much good food here in Chicago. I think my favorite was sharing a jibarito with arroz con gandules at the Paseo Boricua parade this past summer with a bandmate. We had to wait awhile for it to be prepared but, man, was it good!

Carrie / August 20, 2008 9:49 AM

Apple sauce, I loved apple sauce so much. I also loved just regular ol' apples.

Rachel / August 20, 2008 10:01 AM

My mom's meatballs and gravy! We had it EVERY SUNDAY when I was growing up. Really miss it now.

irisheyes1212 / August 20, 2008 10:44 AM

Anything having to do with my paternal grandparents (RIP)
I started drinking coffee at the tender age of 5 with grandma when I'd sleep over, which was often. It would be perculating on the stove at the crack of dawn.
Eating cheese and crackers with my grandpa at midnight, when he would return from his police beat. He with gin and a glass of beer. Me with A&W Cream Soda, drank out of a shot glass, to be like grandpa.
I also loved the way he would make popcorn on the stove. When I would ask he would act like it was the end of the world. Cussing and clanging in the kitchen, but moments later that savory aromoa and familiar pop pop pop.
God I miss them.

r / August 20, 2008 10:47 AM

My mother made hungarian goulash with buttered white bread and green beans. The best.

printdude / August 20, 2008 11:00 AM

I remember trips to Portillo's little shack in Villa Park that were highly anticiapted.
I remember a place called Kai's
I remember burning my belly on a sheet pan of pretzels because I was too small to take it out of the oven.

Kindereggs can be found at Bobak's on Archer.
I just bought myself one Saturday.

Gaigen / August 20, 2008 11:21 AM

Space Food Sticks

Having chicken and dumplings for the first time at my grandmother's house and then realizing that there was one less chicken running around in her back yard.

My first Whopper, which seemed as big as my head then.

An orange cake I tried to bake that ended up with a big crevice in the middle.

mike-ts / August 20, 2008 11:42 AM

My mother used to make jelly, from grapes that were midnight black, from her father in law's vineyard.

No jelly has ever come close to being as good. All the ones on the market are sucrose sweet, while hers was fructose sweet. Like when you bite into a peach or a grape that's at its perfection and the sweetness hammers you. Like that.

Though I was five when she stopped filling Ball jars with that wonderful jelly, I still remember.

Julianna / August 20, 2008 11:59 AM

My paternal grandmother was not much of a cook. Every time there was a family gathering, however, she brought what became her "signature dish": an orange jello mold. Basically it involves orange jello, a can of mandarin oranges, some orange sherbet, and club soda. My sister and I LOVED, and still love, that quivering orange concoction, and though we all have the recipe, since she has died none of us have had the heart to make it. We know it just wouldn't be the same.

David / August 20, 2008 2:41 PM

Gosh, with all these nice homespun memories, I almost hate to add my earliest food memory (and earliest memory, period).

I was about four at the time, and my mom used to (and still does) put used bacon grease into the Minute Maid cans she had left over after making orange juice.

Man, I loved orange juice. So much, in fact, that I pushed a chair over one morning, climbed up, and thrust my hand into what I thought was orange juice. After we got back from the emergency room, neither me nor my bandaged hand got anywhere close to a juice can for YEARS.

Alison / August 20, 2008 3:32 PM

A true Indiana girl, the first thing I remember eating and loving was corn on the cob at a summer dinner with my parents and grandparents.

I, of course, don't remember this part, but my family swears I took a bite, put it down and announced "De-li-ci-ous!"

Yup. So sad my verbal skills peaked at age 4.

kate / August 20, 2008 7:31 PM

Maw Maw's banana puddin' and oven-fresh chocolate chip cookies cooling on dish towels.

Apple juice ran through my veins as a child. I'd announce myself "sooooo thirsty", then give a satisfied "ahh!" and a wipe of the upper lip after I'd polished off yet-another glass.

I grew up in a family with home-cooked meals and nightly dinners together, so the smells and tastes that I remember are countless. My recipe box is priceless (to me).

Cinnamon / August 20, 2008 11:14 PM

Food means so much to me, but I honestly can't remember my first dish. I remember my mom making quesadillas with cheese and sliced vienna sausages in them. I remember sprinkling cinnamon on spagghetti-o's. I even remember sitting by my dog and eating kibble with him (salty and tasted like paste). I also remember eating the tippy-tips of matches. Not sure which came first.

annie / August 21, 2008 9:48 AM

I remember making cookies at Christmas with my mom, we would wear aprons and pretend we had our own cooking show (Julia Child was our muse)I would be Ann Pilsberry and my mom was Betty Crocker.
I also remember my mom making spaghetti on a 90 degree day and my dad came home from work to steamed up windows and we were all sweating and he simply asked "Who the hell boils water on a 90 degree day". ..which is timely b/c I made pasta last night and I think my husband was thinking the same thing. And my first restaurant memory would be ordering Kitty Cocktails at my dad's work Christmas smelled and tasted so sweet and I would walk up the bar where all the men were telling jokes and smoking and getting pretty hamered and I LOVED's no wonder I turned out the way I did. (I should also mention, when my dad had to "babysit" we'd go up to Western Ave. on the south side and have a pub crawl...kitty cocktails all day long.)

Dutch101 / August 21, 2008 11:04 AM

I remember eating raw peas out of the pod in my parent's garden in Cody, WY, when I was probably about 2, that would be the first.

Not necessarily the most sentimental, but kind of odd, every time I smell fresh strawberries, I can instantly remember me and my friend JJ (RIP) eating the strawberries off the plants in his parents backyard. Right by the greenbelt in Cherry Creek Farms subdivision, Denver, CO. Memory comes back clear as glass when I smell that smell.

Irisheyes1212 / August 21, 2008 11:23 AM

LOL forgot to add... I don't remember this per se, but have been told the story over the years. I guess when I was 3 or 4, I was out in the yard w/ my grandpa. We were gardening, picking vegetables, etc.
My grandma came out and said, Hi Erin what are you and grandpa doing? I said, "Gardening. I can't find one goddamn carrot!" LOL

I was so cute. what happened? :-P

demonsentcrooks / August 21, 2008 11:36 AM

I also fondly remember...

Summer evenings sleeping over at my grandparent's house a few blocks away...

My grandfather had an evening ritual of sitting on the patio swing, drinking a couple of Old Style beers and smoking a couple of Dutch Masters cigars. My twin sister and I would always beg him for a sip (or two) of beer, and he usually obliged. To this day, I'll sometimes crack open a cold can of beer on a hot summer day and that first sip tastes exactly as I remember it thirtysomething years ago, instantly transporting me back to those magical summer evenings. We would also give him our best puppy dog eyes and ask for a puff (or two) of his cigar as well, but were always less successful in this endeavor...

Oh yeah, and all hell would break loose whenever fire engines with sirens a-blaring and lights a-flashing would speed past the house. Being the ultimate gawkers (gapers?), the three of us would pile into Grandpa's old Dodge Colt in no time, and follow the trucks to the scene of the fire.

d. / August 21, 2008 12:02 PM

Kimchi and rice and cold cucumbers with our noodles in the summer. Chewy buckwheat and cold beef broth. Thanksgivings mixed with turkey and gravy and all sorts of Korean food too, on the same plate.

The best part is that all this food is a beckon and call away for me, still.

JillyBoo / August 21, 2008 7:20 PM

Carnation Breakfast Bars! Holla!

Leelah / August 21, 2008 8:35 PM

Though I opted for vegetarianism 20 years ago, I can still taste Taylor Ham, or as it is better known on the east coast, pork roll. I never liked meat, so there was no effort for me in giving it up. Then again, I don't live anywhere near Taylor Ham.

As far as I know, Taylor Ham is made of snouts and ears, but fried and in a sandwich, it is incredible. Eat it with a YooHoo, and the meal is perfection. When I visit NJ or NY as an adult, I make somebody order a breakfast sandwich with Talor Ham in it just so I can smell it, and the closest I've ever come to going off my meat-free diet has always been when confronted with the glorious food that is pork roll.

JasonB / August 22, 2008 5:14 AM

I've been known to shed a few tears while eating corn on-the-cob.

karen / August 22, 2008 10:15 AM

my favorite food memories all revolve around my grandma... i get sentimental over blackberries because we used to pick them together (and eat them right off the vine, delicious!) from the bushes at my grandparents' coal mine in SoIll.

my grandma would also always pour me a miniature cup of coffee with cream in it while she drank hers. i somehow took to dipping crackers in mine. i still like to do that.

toast / August 22, 2008 11:39 AM

I have fond memories of my grandma's fried chicken wings, lettuce soup and rice on hot, summer days at my grandparent's laundry.

Anytime I smell chicken frying (even passing Popeyes), I am instantly reminded of her and those yummy wings.

jj / August 22, 2008 1:18 PM

Shoestring potato snacks and cheese puff balls are always present at important family gatherings, in honor of my grandfathers. It does gets weird looks from newcomers to the family when they are placed in the good crystal bowls. My grandmother made a specific Christmas cookie that was named after the small town she grew up in - I get very upset if we don't make them every year. Also when I miss my grandparents I have a 7-7 , Old Style or Michelob, as those were their favorite drinks.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find themselves missing their grandparents MORE as the years go by? I was just thinking that yesterday.

Pat Jurgaitis / August 22, 2008 2:32 PM

Probably one of my earliest... I was maybe 3 or 4, having a soft serve chocolate/vanilla twist cone from the Shirl's Drive in in Waukegan. I remember thinking that the ice cream looked just like a sculpture and that it couldn't really be ice cream.

Apparently around the same age, I would take drinks out of my dad's after work manhattan, and it took them a while to figure out why i was so sleepy.

Boomer / August 24, 2008 6:31 PM

Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries at the '65 world's fair in New York. Mmmm.

Lulu / August 24, 2008 10:16 PM

My paternal grandmother used to make apple sauce from homegrown apples. it was pink and soupy and heavily flavored with cinnamon. God it was good.

Jasmine / August 25, 2008 12:03 AM

Between the ages of 4 and 8, my dad was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I attended school at Bob Hope Primary, and every year I brought in the same thing for show & tell: my dad.

He'd take a few hours off from work, come to school, and cook lunch in a kitchenette right outside my classroom. The idea was I'd talk about how awesome being Filipino was because the food was delicious. Dad would make lumpia, explaining how they're like Chinese eggrolls only with thinner skins. We'd each make our own, and then hope they didn't fall apart in the oil when they cooked.

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