Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Taste of The Familiar

Several times a year, I travel back to my hometown of St. Marys, WV to help out my aging parents, Rex and Alberta. This was one such trip and it became an impromptu tour of some true tastes of home...

Friday was my longtime best friend Kristy's birthday. She is the same age as me but never fails to remind me that I am older than she(by two weeks). We celebrated at Kaki and JB's and were also joined for a bit by friends Connie and Stacie. Following hours of great conversation and laughter through tears, Kak brought out some classic local munchies: Mister Bee potato chips and Broughton's Chip and Dip. Both made in the area and both defining flavors of our childhoods and both utterly destroyed within minutes. What a flashback. I will elaborate on all of these folks that I shared that chip and dip with at later dates as I have shared many a food moment with each of them.

Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with onions soaking in apple cider vinegar have always been a summer staple at my parents home and sure enough the dish was there when I arrived on Saturday. Eating those cukes and maters was like nibbling on summer itself. That dish was at every family reunion, on the dinner table at both of my grandmother's homes and never fails to satisfy, even today. My dad, at nearly ninety, still grew the tomatoes himself but was gifted the other veggies by neighbors as is often done in my old neighborhood.

Sunday, a church supper was held at our old church, the First Baptist Church of St. Marys. I have many a warm and fuzzy memory of church social dinners held in the basement of both the old and new churches. At every one, I immediately went to check out the dessert table to see what I needed to save room for. That prep work, of course, did nothing to deter me from doing some serious damage getting there. I still remember "Aunt" Marie's scalloped potatoes and Hazel Drake's Chicken and Noodles. My parents are no longer able to attend these, but the church sent over some tasty lasagna from Sunday's dinner.

Keith and I tooled around the Sternwheel Festival later on Sunday in Marietta, Ohio and seeing all of the fair food booths(which have gotten seriously elaborate these days) reminded me of childhood favorites. Funnel Cakes(for a $1.00!!) after a hayride through the hills at the Lions Fall Festival at the St.Marys Park. Corn Dogs and Caramel Apples at the Belmont Volunteer Fireman's Carnival(which I would be trying to keep down after too many runs on the Scrambler and the Hustler).

That night, we had a gut-busting Italian meal at longtime local favorite DaVinci's in Williamstown. Truly yummy Fettuccine Alfredo and garlic bread.

My Dad and I went to a traditional end-of-summer trip to the outdoor picnic tables at the Jug in Newport, Ohio. Beautiful day to sit along the serene Ohio River. Dining at the Jug for me has to involve grilled hot dogs with sauce, mustard and onions. The Jug and that riverside location has been the site for many a family and friend get-together.

Ain't it amazing how one bite of food can actually cause you to travel back in time?


Kristy said...

Greg ~ I love that you mentioned Marie's scalloped potatoes and Hazel's noodles..two of my favorite church dinner foods too. Let me remind you of our days in the PCC Chorale, travelling WV, singing in churches and eating absolutely the best and worst of EVERY possible version of casserole ever invented for days at a time. (Perhaps a topic for another blog at another time.)I too loved the funnel cakes at the Lion's Fall Festival (our favorite time of year) but have passed on the hayrides since the last one I was on the trailer broke loose from the truck, careened downhill heading for a chain link fence and I jumped...my mistake HAHA! I love your blog my friend and I will not let you be at loss for topics as we have enjoyed many a food experience over the last 41 years. Here's to the next 41. Cheers!

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