Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Meme: Childhood Food Memories

Another meme going around! For this one, I have been tagged by Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz. This involved digging up five childhood foodie memories (yes, exactly like the title implies, very astute of you). So here goes...

1. Toffee Condensada - What's that you say? It's actually a name we gave to what most people know as dulce de leche. I am the eldest grandchild on both my parents' sides, and subsequently the only one who really got to know my maternal great grandmother. I called her Abo, which is short for abuela (grandmother in Spanish). Abo was a grand dame of a lady. Her word was law and she enforced strict rules on little me. I loved her dearly, and to this day she remains one of my great women role models and has taken on the status of "legend" in my head and heart. When I was was little girl I would play with her everyday. It was strictly me-and-her time. I would climb up on this big chair and she would take out a box of toys for me to play with. She would hand me one spoon (no more, no less) of this heavenly concoction for me to lick and slurp at while I was with her. The spoon would rest in a bowl so no sticky stuff would get on her things.

We called it Toffee Condensada because she would boil whole (unopened) cans of condensed milk in a vat of water for hours. Then when you take the cans out and open them...what was once condensed milk has miraculously turned into a sweet bronze-y sensation! I think this must have been my first lesson in really savoring food and not rushing the eating experience because Toffee Condensada had no seconds. Ever. It was just that one spoon and that was it. I must have learned that lesson well because to this day it pains me (physically and mentally) to rush a meal.

2. Mr. Goodbar - Yup, the Hershey's chocolate bar with peanuts. This too was from my Abo. This was Toffee Condensada's alternate. She would give me one (no more, no less) Mr. Goodbar, broken up in pieces and placed in a brown plastic bowl, for me to eat for the duration of my play-time with her. Again, another lesson in restraint. And even if my favorite chocolates today are all bittersweet or truffle-like, one taste of this and something just clicks into place in my tummy and in my heart.

3. Instant decaf coffee with lots of milk and sugar - My paternal grandmother, my Abuelita (again, spanish for grandmother), would always sneak me things I wasn't allowed to have. Coffee obviously being one of them. Without my mother's knowledge (heehee), I was slugging cuppa after cuppa, albeit decaf and loaded with milk and sugar. I still remember its creamy, sugary, mocha warm and comforting. I must have been 1st grade. My Abuelita was the queen of forbidden goodies! Whereas my Abo tempered the food pleasure she allowed me, my Abuelita was constantly plying me with food (she still is!)...the more fattening the better! Looking back, I think I am better for having both :-)

4. Little Nutella packets - I have actually mentioned this before. When my mother used to go to her favorite specialty food store store she would always bring me one back as a little treat. It came in those small foil-sealed packs, similar to the ones butter comes in when they serve it in the airplanes. It even had its own little plastic spoon with which to eat it. This was long before I discovered that Nutella actually came from a jar (can you imagine what a pleasant surprise that was?). All I knew of Nutella was that one little packet...pure chocolate hazelnut goodness to be savored solo and slowly.

5. Munggo - This is a Filipino dish of mung beans made into a soup, usually with some vegetable like malunggay (moringa) and perhaps a little shrimp or pork for flavor. It's very, very typical and served in households from every walk of life here. A lot of kids my age didn't really think it was anything special, and were usually made to eat it by their parents for it's health benefits. Not me. I loved it! I could eat tons. Really. My mom was ecstatic! This is definitely one childhood favorite that has carried on into adulthood because I still love it, and by the looks of it, I always will.

Ok, I don't think anyone will mind too much if I add just one more?

6. Pineapple Upside-down Cake - If you have read my previous post on this cake then you know that it has been a big part of my early culinary life. It was one of the first cakes I officially learned to bake (taught by my aunt, using a battered Betty Crocker cookbook). I have no idea if it just started as my family being super supportive of my early baking attempts, but they claimed to love it and could not get enough of it. And they still can't. So even when I really feel like making a something elegant and sophisticated, they still drag this one out of the ashes and back into the limelight. I even went through a horribly belligerent phase when I flatly refused to make it. They say that you can never escape your past. If my pineapple upside-down cake is any measure, then that's the solid gold truth!

So that's it! Thanks Paz for tagging me for a walk down memory lane :-)

Now I'm supposed to tag some other foodies for this little memory-meme. I'd like to invite Karen of The Pilgrim's Pots and Pans, who always has interesting food stories to tell! I'd also like to tag two new food bloggers I've"met": Kai from Bucaio and JeyC from A Tenderfoot's Foodventures.

Below is the meme tree. When it’s your turn, move down the list, drop number one from the top spot, move the numbers down, and place yourself in the number five spot. Don’t forget to link the blogs (except yours).

1. A Finger in Every Pie
2. The Traveler’s Lunchbox
3. Nami-Nami
4. The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz
5. 80 Breakfasts


Karen said...

I find something common among many food bloggers - grandmothers! Lucky for you to have known your Abo! What wonderful memories you have too. No wonder you are passionate about food.

Hee hee Joey! Do I have an interesting story to tell about THIS meme when I write out my answers. Remember the date: 1 June 2005!

Paz said...


What wonderful abuelitas!

Your Toffee Condensada and Mr. Goodbar stories are great lessons in savoring and not rushing a meal.

I'm going to go back and read your earlier meme. I also want to read your Pineapple Upside Down Cake post, too. I'm really interested in that. Yum!

Thanks for sharing your childhood food memories. I've had lots of fun reading about them.


Midge said...

Hi, Joey. I seriously miss those ickle Nutella packets. My mom used to give those to me and my brother as rewards if we were good. ^_^

Farid Zadi said...

Hi Joey,

Thanks for visitng my blogs and cheering me on.

I'm listing your blog for

Kai said...

Hi Joey, what wonderful and tasty memories! My childhood reminiscences about food feature my lolas prominently, too.

It was nice of you to tag me, I had been wondering how I could write about the foodstuffs in my childhood, and here you are to the rescue!

T said...

i love mr. goodbar too- just something about it, even the sight of that yellow wrapper, make me happy.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Karen! Yes, grandmothers do seem to play an important part with a lot of food blogger can't knock the wisdom :-) I do feel lucky that I got to spend time with my great grandmother...none of my other cousins really had that chance. Can't wait to hear your stories!

Hi Paz! Thanks for your comments and your interest in my blog :-) Glad you enjoyed reading my thoughts :-)

Hi Midge! Weren't they just the best? So, does that mean if we count how many packets you had we would know how well-behaved you were as a child? Heehee ;-)

Hi Farid Zadi! Thanks for dropping by! And thanks for listing me for Blog Day! I'm honored :-)

Hi Kai! Glad you enjoyed my memories...looking forward to hearing yours! Aren't grannies great? :-)

Hi Tanvi! Yes, Mr. Goodbar is just such a classic! :-)

Farid Zadi said...

I've linked to your blog on my blog for global blog day!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Farid Zadi! I am linking you here as well...hope it's ok! :-)

Fanny said...

Hi Joey,
i love that meme, we learn so much about each others.
Thanx for telling us all your little stories.

Anonymous said...

hello my name is Jay.
the toffee condensada is also called Yemas. My sisters used to make them; thats how they do it without egg yolks.

Mona said...

I'm a newbie blogger, what is this meme stuff I always read about?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Fanny! We really get a peek into other parts of a blogger's life :-) Glad you enjoyed reading it!

Hi Jay! Thanks for dropping by! I never thought of it that way...a way to make Yema without the egg yolks...thanks for your comments :-)

Hi Mona Li! You can learn more about memes here Basically, with regards to how it is used by bloggers, it's a bunch of questions or topics, passed on from one blogger to the next, each giving their own answers (at least that's how I understand it!) :-)

angelika said...

Hi Joey, before starting to write my own childhood meme reading yours has brought me into the right mood - how nice to read about your memories, and how special they are. The story of your two grandmothers - and how different they acted - is like a fairytale. I have also loved those tiny nutella packets (and I still do), and your post about the pineapple-upside-down-cake was the first I read on your blog. I will give it a try soon... Will you one day post about that special recipe you still like to eat tons of .. ?
Take care, angelika

ChichaJo said...

Hi Angelika! You always leave such heartwarming comments, it's a pleasure to recieve them. I am glad you enjoyed this much as I enjoyed looking back at all those wonderful memories :-)

I will post about my favorite munggo soup one of these's a very "home-y" sort of dish and very comforting for me.

Ruth said...

Of all the foodblog events out there, this childhood memory meme is my favourite. I love getting a peak at what other's remember.

Thanks for dropping by my site, since it gave me a chance to find yours. As Arnold Schwartzenagger said in The Terminator - "I'll be back"

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ruth! Thanks for dropping by...and I'd love for you to come visit again :-) I also like reading the other posts of this particular meme...lots of interesting, heartwarming, and YUMMY stories...

hulseye said...

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ChichaJo said...

Hi Hulseye! Thanks for dropping by and for the info :)

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Maraming salamat!