Food and Family

A few days ago, my Wicked Stepmother* sent me a large, well-padded box in which the following wonders were contained:

A dispatch from the Mothership

The item on the left is a cookbook that Wicked herself put together and published. The four items on the right are The Official Candy of My Dad.
The cookbook is special in several ways. Among them:
1) Wicked wrote it, and it reflects her love of her Italian-American heritage and her present family. It’s called Family Sunday Favorites because it grew from the family Sunday dinners they still have. Sadly, my brother and I (who live many, many hours away from the ol’ homestead) haven’t really gotten to hang out at the Family Sunday feasts, but the usual crowd includes my stepsiblings, their spouses and children, and any other conceivably related folk who happen to be there. It’s a pretty neat family thing, and it includes not only the recipes that Wicked herself created or inherited from her own upbringing, but also favorites from my Dad and from my step-inlaws (is that what you call them? Sounds awkward. I now dub them: wickedlaws). There are things Wicked learned in Italy and things she learned right at home, and it’s all rib-stickingly yummy.
2) It’s autographed. I have a totally cool autographed Wicked original! Suck it, poseurs! I got mine from the source.
3) It’s got stories in it of Wicked’s childhood! Cool!
4) I now have a recipe for Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks that makes me drool a bit.
5) I have had an inspiration: Someday, I want to throw a sort of Cookbook Challenge Potluck, in which those who attend are assigned one of Wicked’s recipes to produce for the biggest, baddest Italian meal you can get in Northwest Iowa. THAT would be some damn party! Of course, we’d have to do some vegetarian adaptation to include everyone comfortably, but it would still be epic.
The Official Candy of My Dad is also special.
1) Apparently, I am almost the only one among my immediate acquaintance under the age of 50 who knows about the miracle of food science that is the NECCO wafer. Young people around here have been horribly and tragically deprived. I now have a new calling: NECCO Evangelist. I must preach the good news!
2) Not only is a roll of NECCO wafers entirely fat-free, it’s pretty much free of everything else as well. NECCO wafers are the purest tasty calorie and carb delivery system known to humanity.
3) I have learned a curious thing: The place to get the interest, old-school candy (NECCO wafers, Beeman’s gum, etc.) is at the local farm implement/feed/etc. stores. You want the rocking nostalgia sugar? Bomgaars has your back!
The general coolness of the whole thing, though, is this: family memory is caught up in food. Family Sunday represents, in a way, the formal side of that — the group cohesion effect of bonding over a good meal. The NECCO wafers are the more informal, personal thing — the food quirk of an individual that became a sort of “tradition” for the family/family environments of that individual.
Imma gonna eat me some NECCO and take a nap now. Thanks, Wicked!

*Who is awesome.


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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