Thursday, November 7, 2013

missing home

Home is such an elusive word when you're an American diplomat.  Where is home exactly?  It's been almost two full years since we've been to the United States and right at this moment if feels like a very long time.  Home is lots of places to us, but mostly, it's where our family is.

More and more lately, I've been thinking about my parents back home and even subconsciously they've been on my mind.  Last week, I was feeling especially homesick and realized so only after I'd recreated one of my most frequent childhood dinners for my own family.

Then, unexpectedly while shopping at the commissary for a few staples, I happened upon a sweet reminder of my mother and her culinary expertise during the holidays.  My mother's family rotates hosting Christmas and  when I was much younger Thanksgiving as well (now my uncle hosts every year so the rest of the year the family will leave him alone! HA!).  Anyway, whenever it was my family's turn to host, my mother would compile her own version of an antipasto platter as the appetizer.  Back then, I don't ever recall hearing the term antipasto.  It was simply finger foods and things we could all munch on as we hovered around the cooks while they finished the big meal.  My aunt would always comment about how we all better stop eating the finger foods or else we'll be stuffed before dinner.  It sounded like the type of thing everyone's aunt would say.

This lovely tradition of my mother's would include a plate with sectional cut glass bowls separating tiny pickles, green olives stuffed with peppers, black olives. smoked salmon and pickled herring (my father is Finnish).  Sometimes there was a nut covered cheese ball.  Crackers were necessary because they paired with the star of the platter; the canned smoked oysters.  The perfect Pacific Northwest antipasto spread.

Right before our guests would arrive my mother would pull the little boxes from the cupboard, open them and peal back the lid on the metal tins.  The cans, with their little rows of oil packed smokiness would be placed on the platter next to toothpicks and crackers.  When I was really little they disgusted me but my parents loved them.  My Father would sneak in and poke a few and plop them in his mouth when my mom wasn't looking.  As I grew older I tried them and year after year they became one of the traditions that I embraced.  A tradition I grew to love.

So when I saw the canned smoked oysters sitting on the shelf at the commissary I had to buy them with the plan to pop them open while I was roasting a Turkey this year.  They didn't make it that far.  Today, I pealed back that lid and ate them on crackers for lunch.  I was thrilled that my memory of how they tasted matched how they actually taste.  Exactly the same as they tasted every year on my mother's antipasto platter.

After a sweet memory inducing lunch, I poured the rest of the cold coffee from the pot in a mug and nuked it in the microwave to sip on.  And I realize with a little chuckle, that this is exactly what my mother would have done.

1 comment:

wellthatwasdifferent said...

Nice post :) Drinking my reheated coffee right now, just like my mother does!