I've loved cooking and preparing food all my conscious life, as I know I've mentioned often.
Some, many really, of the foods I ate as a child will never be in my kitchen again. Some by choice, some by necessity, some simply don't seem like food anymore. But so many are still part of everything I enjoy about cooking and serving good food. I love to cook for friends and family, the notorious tapioca incident aside; it feels like a really intimate, loving act. Mostly these days, I'm cooking for one or two, plus Coco, of course. We still have dinner parties, guests for wine and munchies, and big holiday dinners, but the day-in, day-out kitchen activity is on a very small scale. Even so, sometimes the sight or smell, even the thought, of a specific food from my childhood takes me on a daydreaming journey and transforms our meals.
This morning was one of those times. My plan was to make a quick breakfast while GK took Coco for her morning walk. I was thinking simple scrambled eggs with avocado on the side for me and hash brown-like potatoes for him. While pulling eggs from the refrigerator, I noticed the avocados from last week's farm delivery had ripened and decided to use one of them instead of those in the fridge. So far, nothing exciting, but as I picked up the avocado, a fuerte, I was swept back to my childhood. My mom never used California's Hass avocados. I think she thought they were ugly or something. If we had avocados in the house, they were big, beautiful, smooth-skinned, green fuertes. And they always and only went into salad. In our house salad only meant one thing: iceberg lettuce, diced tomato, minced onion, olive oil, salt, dried mint, and avocado on very rare occasions. That was the only salad I knew of, other than tabbouleh, which was for special occasions only. I don't remember when I found out about salad dressings. I do remember they seemed foreign and I was smitten with them.
Still, I digress. As I thought of the only avocados I knew and the only salad I knew, my mind naturally (for me anyway) ended up with the only omelet I knew. At our house, the word omelet meant only one thing. Always. Eggs and milk, beaten with a fork and seasoned with salt, a tiny bit of pepper, and dried mint. We always had mint, lots of mint, growing in the yard. My mother would dry a big batch every couple of years and run it through her Foley food mill. There was never a time that we were without dried mint, a habit that I took into adulthood with me.
So the scrambled egg plan gave way to omelets. Not the omelets of my childhood, but mushroom and avocado for GK and shrimp and mushroom for me. We had exactly 3 shrimp (from US Wellness Meats) leftover from last night's visit with Erika and Kristen. It felt silly saving them, but I was not about to throw them away. Three was a perfect number. After I chopped them into large chunks, every bite had a taste of the garlicky shrimp. And right next to my omelet sat one half of a large fuerte avocado, a reminder of childhood. Though in my childhood, half an avocado would have made a salad for six. No way would it ever have been a side dish for one person's breakfast.