Only the best, most wonderful, most simple pork chops known to man. Only the incredible pork chops the require three ingredients and should never be eaten with anything other than roasted broccoli and mashed potatoes. Only the pork chops covered in that amazing gravy that is the actual epitome of what your childhood tasted like.
What has lasted in her absence is what often seems to last: Food. Her perfect, perfect Salmon Soufflé. Now, because both Aunt Sue and Mamaw are beyond us, I can say what I'm about to say, without fear of an uprising. Aunt Sue's Salmon Soufflé wins. It is the winner of a life-long feud: Mamaw's Salmon Loaf or Aunt Sue's Salmon Soufflé?
I remember reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Coney Island Mind on the dock of my grandparent's summer home in Okoboji, Iowa one summer a lifetime ago. One of the last summers I had before obligation became year round.
Dad wasn't perfect. He was good. He was a good person. He did good for others. He saw people. He loved people. And he often surprised people with quiet thoughtfulness. He was a savior. He was a confidant. He was a vigilante for your individuality in the middle of the night. He always wanted to curate an experience.
When I'm afraid of or uncomfortable with certain things, it's generally because I lack understanding. When I push myself past that initial fear or discomfort, I am always pleasantly surprised.
It was one of the most important things Dad ever said to me. And in moments when I've struggled to meet a challenge, if I harken back to that moment and that success, I succeed again.
My name is Maddie. Madeline Suzanne. My nicknames? Shuffy, Shiney, B-Sweet, Little Maddie Fu-Sue, Crainch-Grainch, Crumpertina Meff-Mertudy (she's the cutest of the cute-cute-cuties), Crunchy, Shine-a-lau, Sholly, Shollarific, Madelina Suzanna Maria, Midge, Scrummy, and everybody's favorite: Screebits.
My Momma is a damn good cook. She fed us so well all my life. And even though I began my life as a somewhat picky eater - and even though I continue to have a few of those early food quirks heldover - her ability to make things delicious inspired my life in ways I can't fully express.
The path to young foodie-dom was not smooth. There were tears. There were disgusted faces and total upset. But I remained cool and collected and knew, I just knew, I'd figure the kid out.
There's this episode of Cheers where Woody is trying to win a bartender's contest by creating a new drink. Sam says something like, "you can't make a new drink - every combination has already been thought of." And he said this as I was prepping to make this Roasted Red Pepper Soup.