Sometimes I wonder how it is that I became so interested in food. I can’t say I have a childhood rich with food memories. I was never taught how to hold a knife or the proper way to chop an onion. I can’t, like so many of my friends, say that I’ve logged hours in the kitchen with my mom and sisters. I remember the food at Sunday family dinners mostly because the meal was served alongside a compulsory glass of skim milk. In fact, one of my most vivid food memories is of my eldest sister torturing me by taking frozen-to-boiled brussel sprouts and hiding them in my pillowcase (sidenote: my utter fear of brussel sprouts that resulted from this harassment has since blossomed into a full-blown love affair, which I’ll address at some point in this blog). I had two extremely hard-working parents who most certainly provided for us, but when you’re raising three girls, what we ate exactly wasn’t high on the priority list. Calorie intake was key. Ramen noodles, Fried Plantains, Fruity Pebbles. These are a few childhood food staples that I still regularly crave and regard as culinary genius. Please don’t judge me.
Beyond these fried and processed delights, however, I have one strong childhood food memory that’s as enduring and powerful as they come. Banana Gulch.
Banana Gulch, as has always been explained to me by my father, is a Thompson family tradition, one that began with my grandfather and has since been passed down to my sisters and me. In simple terms, it’s a banana milkshake. But beyond your standard concoction of bananas, milk, and ice cream, Banana Gulch boasts a secret ingredient–one that truly transforms its flavors into something extraordinarily special and delicious. I remember nary a hot summer where I didn’t hear my dad at the blender. That sound of crunching ice against the blender blade still makes me salivate.
Perhaps I cling to this food memory because it belongs to my family, and my family alone. While I was swimming in a world of Campbell’s split-pea soup, Banana Gulch was fresh, simple, delicious, and most importantly: it was uniquely ours.
It is with the inspiration of Banana Gulch that I set out to create this blog. To celebrate the most simple and delicious of food as we share it with our friends and family. Food memories (a la brussel sprouts) are created inadvertently every day and I’ve truly come to appreciate how they’ve shaped my life experience. I plan to highlight healthy at-home recipes while featuring stand-out dining experiences. It’s about honoring old memories while creating new traditions, and, quite frankly, regardless of how I got there, about loving to eat.