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The oddness of nostalgia, special exceptions, and a recipe courtesy of my grandma Isabel

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I have to say, even though I live in a tiny little cow town in nowhere, I love our quirky little local grocery store. Someone should really make a sitcom based on it. The checkers are awesome and hilarious, and they stock regional and international foods like you wouldn’t believe off in the corners. For instance, I was able to get Jamaican Ugli fruit today,

It's a cross between grapefruit and tangerines, I think.

which I love because it’s sweeter than tangerines, but still has the hint of riboflavinoid bitterness I enjoy in grapefruits. They also have seasonal melons and other weird fruits and veg, which is really pretty impressive all things considered.  You can find Louisiana hot sauces from Louisiana, and cookies from Germany, rusks from the Netherlands, Japanese rice crackers, capers and kimchee and so on and so forth.  They stock cans of poppyseed cookie filling and hedge apples for keeping the spiders at bay, if you’re weird like that.

I have no point here, except to say that this particular grocery store will always have a place in my heart. I was there today and walked by their sale table (literally a big picnic style table with a random assortment of junk on it), and saw a damaged package of control top hose, which gave me sudden cognitive dissonance nostalgia.

SCDN, is when I see something that reminds me not only of my life in particular but of the zeitgeist of the 90’s especially.

Why control top pantyhose? I have no idea, except perhaps that a. the package picture hasn’t changed in at least 15 years, and b. I associate pantyhose with going to Jehovah’s Witness meetings. I had one of those moments where the muzak is playing and everything seems sort of timeless, it could easily be 1997 again, and/or an X-files episode.

I also had the sudden sense of being a grown up with my teenage self still wryly observing from inside my responsible married woman face, and of being  in a quirky sitcom scene, as an extra or something.

Again, I have zilch in the way of a point, except to propose a survey. What item, food, song, whatever gives you the same feeling?

Also, I was shopping for stuff for my grandma Isabel’s (rest in peace you crazy diamond) tuna fish salad recipe. Now you may be saying, “feh, everyone knows how to make tune fish salad!”

This one is for Paprika : "I will haunt the ever living fuck out of you people".

You’re probably right. But this recipe is also super nostalgic for me, and makes me think of my grandma, who was a farm girl from Ontario with a teaching degree and delusions of aristocracy. She would make this for me as an acceptable alternative to her other terrible awful health food. She had bottles of supplements everywhere, and saved the water from making pasta (my grandfather mistook it for lemonade once, true story), and all jars and containers. She was an awful woman in many ways, but she had her very loveable moments. She had exquisite penmanship, and wrote absolutely rotten poetry, and I still miss her.

Tuna Fish Salad (which you should not make too often, because tuna are over-fished, okay?):

1 can chunk white albacore in water (make sure you don’t get the stuff in oil! Do they even still make that? I don’t know, but Grandma Isabel was firm on this point”

2 tablespoons of dill (or to taste. I like a shitload of dill)

2 teaspoons dill seed

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion salt (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper(or to taste, OBVIOUSLY IT’S ALL TO TASTE, so sayeth grandma Isabel)

3 tablespoons minced garlic (I’m a plebe and get mine from a jar, which makes me a bad foodie, bad liberal and worse person)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4-5 tablespoons (real full fat, best if you make it yourself but wev) may0

Whites of 2 hard boiled eggs

Swiss chard (if you can get it, OM NOM NOM),  Cress (if you can get it, it’s SO GOOD), Lettuce (of whatever kind) sprouts (clover or alfalfa), whole grain pita bread or loaf bread.

Mix it all together, make lettuce, chard and sprout wraps if you want, or slap it on some bread. The sweet, slightly fermented smell of the wheat bread adds another layer of nostalgia for me, because that is the only kind of bread grandma Isabel ever allowed into her house.

Finally, brew a cup of herbal tea, sweeten it with either honey or stevia, and have a passive aggressive chat about the many failings of your family members with them.


Feel free to leave nostalgic recipes in the comments.


About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

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