Harkening Back (and No Time Like the Present)

I am a girl who loves musicals, sweets and stories. I learned how to bake from my mom, and how to talk from my dad. And I’ve always harkened back – romanticized earlier eras and relished stories from others’ childhoods.

Food has always figured prominently in my life, but I know that doesn’t make me unique. My own food love began at about age 11, when I decided to seek out the perfect chocolate mousse – a rather obnoxious project in hindsight. What real options did I face – a Denny’s dessert versus grocery store chocolate pudding? Nevertheless, I set out to order chocolate mousse anytime I saw it on a menu, whenever we went out to eat, either at the weekly “Dad’s night to cook” Thursday-night dinners or during summer vacations, typically road trips through California and the Pacific Northwest, with one big excursion to Hawaii. (The Charthouse in Lake Tahoe was deemed purveyor of the best chocolate mousse, given my limited tastings at the time.)

Chocolate mousse wedding cake

I still like chocolate mousse so much that it was a filling (along with salted caramel) in my wedding cake in 2010. Photo by Ars Magna/Allana Taranto.

So with chocolate mousse it began, and it is through baking, cooking, writing, conversations and a whole lot of eating that my food love has grown.

I’ve had several stops and starts on a book I’ve long wanted to write – something I started several years ago with interviews of family, friends and a few semi-famous people – but life got in the way for awhile. Now, on the verge of seeing my first book published (about restaurants and chefs in Napa and Sonoma – Wine Country Chef’s Table), it seems time to return to the idea I’ve long wanted to bring to life. Taking it off the back burner. No time like the present. (Stop talking about doing it and just do it already – says my husband, the voice in my head, etc.) This blog is meant to be the official start of that project.

It’s called Cravings of Home.

The idea is about harkening back – and definitely about stories, certainly sometimes sweets, and possibly even musicals? – and remembering the foods of childhood, the dishes that bring you comfort today. What do you long for when you’ve had a lousy day at work? Or on a cozy winter night? What smells conjure up the foods of your youth? What dishes did you most miss when you went off to college? When you are in the depths of despair* – or just plain hungry for a homey, familiar meal – what ingredients do you gather up in your own kitchen to provide quick solace?

In short, what do you crave from home?

If you have a story to share, please contact me. As part of this project, I am interviewing people (a cross-section of humanity), collecting their stories and recipes and posting them here. Check back regularly, read, cook, and think of home. Call your family and tell them what you’re doing, what you miss. Share stories.

*Possibly not surprisingly, I also LOVE Anne of Green Gables.  This phrase comes from an Anne quote.

4 thoughts on “Harkening Back (and No Time Like the Present)

  1. Laura – I expect this idea to be a huge success. I just finished reading the piece on your mom and your introduction above. Your writing is engaging and warm and I look forward to reading future posts….and buying your new book. Congratulations!

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