My children have plenty of things. When I travel without the boys, instead of bringing back t-shirts (they have hundreds) or snow globes (one is more than enough), I like to share the experience with them, often by cooking something new I enjoyed away from home. When we vacation as a family, we often return with new favorites to add to our regular menu. Here's how that plays out in our home:
After a recent trip to New Orleans with a couple of girlfriends, I came home with the requisite box of Cafe du Monde beignet mix and plenty of stories, at least a few of which could not be shared with the children, because you know how ladies' trips go (ahem). A couple of weeks later, it was time to make the doughnuts.
I waited until everyone was home to pull out my grandmother's enormous, well-seasoned cast iron pot, filling it with a blend of canola and coconut oil. (For the curious, this blend withstood the high heat and worked well for deep frying.) We monitored the temperature of the oil with a thermometer throughout the whole process, to keep it at 370°, as the box indicated. (Full disclosure: It didn't really work. When the temperature got too low, the beignets did not get puffy. They were still delicious, just not as authentic looking.)
But the beignets weren't really the point. Illustrating the experience — the tradition of the pastry in New Orleans, and the enormous lines that prevented my friends and me from sampling the official Cafe du Monde version — was the reason for the cooking session. (Don't worry, the children did get a few strings of colorful beads.)
When we returned from Italy last summer, our family diet expanded to include truffle oil, mortadella and a lot more pasta, perfectly prepared, just the way we learned from our Italian host. Linguine alle vongole, lightly tossed with olive oil, white wine and parsley, never fails to elicit a stroll down memory lane.
Our vacation memories always include meals, where we ate, who dined with us and what new flavors we enjoyed. How do you bring your vacation home? Do you share memories through food?
(Images: Anne Postic)