Whenever the times were tough, Mom always made her famous mashed potatoes with chicken cutlets and brown gravy. The cutlets were breaded and fried. She used the best breadcrumbs and there have been others that made the same meal with the same ingredients but for whatever the reason, no cutlets were ever like Mom’s cutlets.
And what I am about to say might be against science and popular opinion, but hell with it. This needs to be said.
Ultimately, food is the best antidepressant ever. And this is not just any food. When I say food, I mean the meals we grew up with. I mean the food that for whatever the reason might be—the smell of the dish alone, mixed with the flavor; it somehow just took away the problems at hand.
Or, one could argue the main ingredient is what did the trick because the main ingredient was love. But then to this I will tell you that food is love. Of all things, there is nothing more social and loving than a meal amongst the people you care about.
This is our heritage. This is the bread of where we come from. Although opinions vary, the meals we grew up with can never be duplicated by anyone else.
And I think about this sometimes. I think about the way my table would look in my home as a kid. The Old Man was home after a long day’s work. The house smelled from Mom’s cooking. We all sat around the table, which is eventually where conversation was replaced by the sounds of forks and knives clanked into plates, because sometimes, the meal was so good that words needn’t be said. I remember.
The truth is I have not had a meal with The Old Man, Mom, my brother and myself for more than 30 years now. Ah, but still, I can remember.
Mom always knew when to make me cinnamon toast. She made it her way, which if you ask me is the only way.
I miss Mom’s cinnamon toast. I miss sitting at the table with literally a million thoughts in my head, and then Mom put a plate in front of me at the table —and at least for the moment, the problems just simply went away.
I’m telling you this works. I can say this wholeheartedly. I can say that a good meal and the right delivery of a dish can somehow wash away the sadness. And it’s not just the food; it’s the way we share with each other. It’s the way we sit together and the way we feed each other —because of all things, food is nurturing. Food is love; it is a connection which builds memory.
I was thinking about the meals from my childhood. I was thinking about the fun ones too and the meals we had when we were hit with a case of the munchies—and the frozen pizzas, the square ones, I think Ellio’s is what they were called.
Now, be mindful that this is no comparison to the pizza we had down the street at Rose’s Pizzeria. This was not gourmet fine dining, but still, the pizza hit the spot because more than the flavor and more than the meal, there was a connection to events that makes the food good enough to cause a smile.
Now, in fairness, our taste buds mature. In fairness, I’ve had Ellio’s pizza as an adult and the flavor wasn’t quite the same to me.
But then again, my connections are different. My focus on nutrition has changed quite a bit since. However, I have to admit when I slip from my healthy meal plans.
I also have to admit there is something fun about something, like say, sneaking in a few cheesy beef burritos with someone you love when you know you’re not supposed to. And I can see where this does not benefit my waistline. At the same time, I can also see where this would come along and benefit someone’s heart.
I am wondering about you though—
What would be your most remembered and favorite dish of all times? What would your table look like from your childhood?
Can you picture this?
What was the best dish on the table when the entire family was together and there was no tension in the room?
God bless and rest her soul but my Aunt Sondra used to come up with some great meals. There were times when she would go grocery shopping during the late hours and then she would create these meals at crazy hours of the night. She’d wake everyone up when finished to come and eat.
I can see how this might sound a little crazy but to be honest —I miss these meals nearly as much as I miss her. Aunt Sondra was like a second Mom to me.
She stepped in when I needed her most. And she’s been gone for a while. I can hardly remember the sound of her voice, which is not altogether accurate, but at the same time there is something so distant about this memory to me.
Ah, but if I were to smell the flavors of a good stew, I am sure the memories would all come flooding back.
Food is love. Make no mistake. And we learn this from a young age. We also learn to share, take turns, and hold hands.
Unfortunately, the outside world is not always this kind. Not everyone waits their turn, and sadly, hand-holding has lost its importance.
I mean, to be fair, I can’t say it would be a good idea to grab a stranger’s hand when crossing the street on Lexington and 43rd
I can only say there are a select few that understand the benefits of sharing and taking turns. These are the best people to share a meal with—and more than anything, when times are tough, these are the people that will help feed you to mend your life, and when needed, these are the ones that will hold your hand until you feel better.
As someone familiar with medication and antidepressants —out of all of them, there is no medication that can achieve all the above.
Trust me on this