Something I heard Marcus Samuelsson read aloud from his memoir Yes, Chef struck a chord with me. His first food memory is associated not with a taste but with a smell. I am paraphrasing here, but the gist of it was the armoas of his grandmother’s home brought him back to the beginning.
The description of this memory got me to thinking about my own earliest memories of food.
I remember my aggravation over a canceled pumpkin cookies baking session because my sister decided to make her entrance into the world. Then in kindergarten we shook small jars of cream for what seemed like hours to make homemade butter.
If gum counts as food, I definitely remember the tiny multi-colored Chiclets in the flat, yellow packets that I was allowed to pick out if I was good at the grocery store. And the days when NutraSweet gumballs arrived in the mail, well, those were good days indeed.
Like Samuelsson, I too have memories of food at my both of my grandparents homes. As a child, I loved vanilla ice cream flecked with the beans, but only when I could eat it with the “tulip spoon” (a spoon decorated, obviously, with a tulip).
I am sure I ate my first poached egg with my grandfather, but only after a lesson on how to do it just right. Tear up a piece of bread, place a dab of butter on top, and place the poached egg over the butter to melt.
I would eat those torn, egg-soaked pieces of bread with their crusts on, but there was no way I was eating bread with crusts with my other grandpa. He informed me that bread crusts put hair on your chest, and I was just not down with that.
Meanwhile, grandma’s warning that drinking coffee would stunt my growth went unnoticed. To this day, I like my coffee just like she does, with plenty of cream.
A staple snack one grandmother kept around was dried sugared apricots. She would cut them into strips, moisten them with water, and then roll them in sugar so the crystals stuck. I really haven’t had much use for dried apricots any other way until now.
These fruit and nut snack bites are simply a mixture of spiced ground almonds, coconut, and dried apricots. If a handful of almonds and apricots alone are less than exciting, form them into balls with a little coconut and spice to improve their snack appeal. Enjoy!
Apricot Almond Quick Bites
1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
approximately 20 dried apricots (roughly 3/4 to 1 cup)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
- Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they resemble a fairly fine flour.
- Add the coconut and the apricots and continue processing.
- Once the mixture is fully incorporated, add the spices and give it a few more pulses to distribute them evenly.
- The mixture should hold its shape when a bit of it is pressed together, but if not, simply add a few more processed apricots to bind it together.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes (to help it hold its shape).
- Form the chilled mixture into small balls of about one tablespoon. The mixture will come together when squeezed and rolled very gently.
- The balls will keep up to a week in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer.