Breast Milk and Burgers
My first food was breast milk, and I hope yours was, too: A finer cuisine for an infant just does not exist. Add to that the fact that it is usually served up by a chef with soft arms, an hypnotic heartbeat, and loving eyes, and I feel quite fortunate to have ever feasted at such a deli. In fact, the bonding that occurs with nursing is the start of a person’s ability to love someone (‘attach’) later.
But as was typical of the times, I soon moved on…
I don’t recall the baby foods that were being marketed as ‘superior’ for babies and ‘convenient’ for busy moms. My earliest memories of the development of a more catholic palate began about the same time as the de-pantsing debacle described in my last post, Of Perverts, Prophets and Posts.
I was four-ish, my mom was a young divorcèe, and we lived in Los Angeles. When I wasn’t in nursery school, and she wasn’t working, as far as I was concerned, we were just two swinging girls out on the town! She was the blonde, buxom vixen with pouty lips, Marilyn Monroe style, while I, the brunette, was more the Jane Russell type (at least in my mind) – the sassy sidekick but nonetheless quite a looker in her own right. Put us in some mother/daughter sundresses and matching huaraches, on the leather seats of my uncle’s borrowed white convertible T-bird, and all I can say is – watch out, boys!
It seems I’ve digressed, but let me just say here and now that I think the appropriate fashion adornment can be essential to sense and setting. In Licking the Spoon, my book about food, sex and relationship, I take the time to paint a verbal picture of the vestments that can help to create a mood. For example, in Chapter 2, “Latin Lover Pasta (Finding Him),” I describe the tantalizing look and feel of silk caressing a woman’s cleavage, and the masculine appeal of a man in a crisp white shirt.
But the point is, a girl needs to eat. And so, as my mom and I cruised the not-yet-so-mean streets of the City of Angels, waving to men in uniform and being whistled at by laborers and businessmen alike, we also stopped, as the budget allowed, to sample the culinary offerings of the time. In colorful Mexican cantinas with tile fountains and mariachi music, we enjoyed steaming platters of cheesy goodness. Dark Chinese dens, eerie with fish tanks, promised hot crunchy egg rolls along with little parasols in the Shirley Temples. Juicy farm-raised California beef burgers (not the polluted burgers of today) on toasted Kaiser rolls, with crisp lettuce, mayonnaise and sweet onions, were served up by perky teenagers, not in drive-throughs but at drive-ins where one could see and be seen.
Even the more pedestrian fare we ate at home had a certain panache. Like when Mom let me cut corn tortillas into cookie shapes before steaming and serving with butter. And how on Wednesday nights when she had to work, her father gave me a bowl of canned chili and a glass of wine before putting me up on a stepstool to wash our dishes. (He had that babysitting thing down!) I don’t approve of giving alcohol to children, but I know that there are cultural pre- and proscriptions about it. My grandfather’s culture, I suspect, was the one of “make sure that kid gets to sleep!”
Right or wrong, there began my memory of a lifelong romance with the sensual experience of dining. Does it call up any memories of your own?
50 thoughts on “Breast Milk and Burgers”
Actually it does. I’m thinking about the Pennsylvania Dutch goodies my grandma used to make. Especially pork and saurkraut and shoo fly pie!
My grandma wasn’t Pennsylvania Dutch, but I grew up in that area. Love those dishes, nirvana, and the opera fudge, too! There will be at least one PA Dutch food in my book!
Those are great memories you have with your mom.It’s amazing how food has the ability to create so many memories for a family. I can’t eat oatmeal or tamales without thinking of my grandma. Also your story made me very hungry.Great blog
Wow, memories of your grandma, and an appetite! I did my job! 🙂
It left me wishing that my mom was as cool as yours, and made me thankful that my Nana lived with us and did the baking and cooking!
Well, Diana, my mom wasn’t always so cool. But she tried! Thanks for reading!
Ai-ai-ai Lynda… if I am going to tell you about my childhood memories related to food and feeling cozy after eating them… Well… it will be a looong paragraph… but you are right!! Cooking together as a family helps us to develop respect and appreciation to our elders and our culture!!!
Yes, Naluce, those full, cozy and safe feelings of childhood… Some of my best memories of my mom took place in the kitchen. And I think that’s true for many women – and some lucky men.
This reminds me of the times my mom and I bake our cookies and pumpkin breads during the holidays, it’s not Christmas without her famous pumpkin bread!
I know what you mean – nostalgia for our childhood experiences can be very powerful! I enjoyed writing about that time with my mom.
Yes, my mom was of your grandfather’s culture that believed “a little alcohol won’t hurt, it is just a bit medicinal,” and it helped the little ones get to sleep on occasion. I too have fond memories of my mom’s cooking and particularly of being her assistant that did all the chopping. As with most of us, my mom was a genius in the kitchen.
Reminds me of me and my mother with matching hairstyles and jeans making chicken tacos in the kitchen back in East Los!
That’s adorable, Rhianna! I can just see you two!
Unfortunately, my mom and I never really had this bonding experience because she always worked when I was younger. However, this reminds me of when my dad and I use to make his chicken noodle soup and late night snacks of Honey Buns. Now that he’s gone, I don’t really know anyone that can replicate the recipe he had for chicken noodle soup, or any one with the same love for Honey Buns like him. This brought up so many good memories (:
It’s sad that you didn’t have those bonding experiences with your mom Kristen, but the image of you and your dad with your chicken soup and honey buns is pretty sweet! 🙂
This article made me smile cause it reminds of my relationship with my mother also! She is my favorite shopping buddy and restaurant connoisseur!
It’s wonderful to have good memories of your mom.
Breast milk is the best food for a baby! It is also an amazing experience! Such bonding! It seems you and your mom had an amazing relationship! It seems so great and you guys had fun. I wish I had a similar relationship with my mom!
It was mixed, Cindy. My mom was very loving when I was a child – but she also beat me. As a teenager she meddled to the point that my friends’ moms didn’t want them to hang around with me. So not until about my 30’s did we really become friends again. Maybe there are things you can do to try to improve relations with your mom.
I think the experiences you shared with your Mom sounds very fun and special. Mom bonding time is always the best!
My mom is no longer alive, but we sure did have some good times. Some hard times, too.
Thankfully, my mom and I have had nothing but great bonding experiences! Though this reminds me in particular of one Christmas when we made tamales. I had so much fun, and the tamales were delicious.
That’s a nice image, Lizzie!
Sounds like you had a great bond with your mom!!
Our relationship was complicated at times, but in the early days especially it was pretty sweet.
With a title like that I could not resist reading it!
I love writing the titles!
The title fits perfectly with this article! I sort of wish i spent a bit more time with my mother, maybe we wouldn’t have yelled at each other so much.
My mom and I had some pretty rocky years during my teens/20’s. But we recovered.
Aww, it sounds like you had a good bond with your mother! This blog made me hungry! :p
Haha! I love remembering things, such as my mom and food memories!
Such a fun article to read. I loved how you and your mom cruised in the convertible as the hot stuff everyone wanted to look at for forever. Sounds like fun memories. The only convertible memories I have are when my cousin and I were playing with the power mode switch in her Lexus sc430. Let me tell you, we made it a mission to gun it down empty back streets to feel g-forces. I guess we’re more thrill chasers than cruisers, but fun memories nonetheless. Other than our psychotic driving, we actually cook gourmet Chinese meals that are ironically so simple. I love my bonding time with her.
I like the cooking and bonding part, but not the g-forces part. Glad you are still with the living!
Reading this article made me hungry! Love the mother/daughter relationship 🙂
For breast milk or burgers, LOL? My relationship with my mom got rockier later, but it could also be very loving, especially when I was little.
Now this story has a little of me in it. I remember as a young child being given a small glass of Morgan David wine to make me sleep. my Pa Pa was the light of my life. The mother daughter relationship was a beautiful thing.
I think those grandfathers just wanted to put us to sleep!
reading this story, i feel like it was a perfectly painted picture of your life and the mother daughter bonding that was made in mothers and your your life.
Believe me, we had issues – especially as I got older. But I have fond memories of that early bond.
I grow up in a house with 2 obese women and a pre diabetic dad. I was on my path to becoming overweight but then I discovered that I have type one diabetes and can not eat food how I used to. In my family we eat to deal with our problems. My mom especially. So ever since I was a kid that was how I dealt with my stress but as a diabetic I cannot eat whatever or whenever I want changing my relationship with food completely. Eating is no longer a luxury but a chore.
That is sad to hear, because I truly believe enjoying good food is one of the great pleasures in life.
That makes me feel sad for you, because I truly believe that enjoying good food is one of our great pleasures in life.
that is so awesome that you have all of those fun memories of your mom and yourself. Sometimes I cant even remember how my childhood was. I can only remember the bad things but I guess it had to do with our minds. I myself only remember that my grandmother used to ask us to light a cigarett for her and would take a lil puffs before I handed it to her and her delicious tamales never have I had any the same way. awww those good old days no worries……
That’s a cute memory about the cigarettes, although not so healthy, haha. But tamales are a different story – yum! And you know what else is healthy? Trying to remember some of the good times.
I loved reading your story! As a child, my parents could not afford eating out very often so, my childhood consisted more of homemade Chinese food. I always adored my mom when she cooked and wanted to recreate her masterpieces. I grew up to prefer homemade food than eating out.
You’re lucky because that’s healthier! I must confess a taste for restaurant food, as well as home-made.
My mom use to tell me about rubbing alcohol on an infants gums to calm them down.
That is one of those old-time remedies! 🙂 But I suspect massaging the infant in a soothing way would help just as much.
I was never breast fed as a baby, so I could not relate to that part. But my dad created a lot of love and connection with myself and my sisters through food, to this day eating anything that reminds us of him gives us an indescribable joy. That is what I took away from this reading, at least. Not sure if Im right.
I think you absolutely got the takeaway!
Comments are closed.