Thirty One Flavors

When I was eighteen, I lived with my dad in a little apartment in Southern California.  I have a lot of memories of that time with him, and each of them is a jewel I keep deep inside me in that space for all my most precious things.  I called him one morning freaking out and he couldn't understand a word I was saying so he rushed home and found me in the kitchen with his welding mask, gloves, boots and pants on holding them up with one hand and wielding a spatula in the other. I was screeching something about cockroaches and smacking them with my very ineffective weapon while trying to make sure I didn't have any exposed skin in case one decided to jump up and bite me. I've never seen him laugh so hard in my life.  Turns out they were only little crickets and dad took care of them in short order while I sheepishly returned his welding gear to its proper place.  He still loves to tell that story.

We lived on the second floor of the apartment building and I sometimes did the shopping and cooking.  I think that's when I really began to learn what foods I personally preferred and which ones I didn't because I had a lot of freedom to choose. My parents had recently divorced and my brothers and sister lived with my mom. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of several years so I think we just kind of understood where the other was at.  He turned his walk in closet, into a "prayer closet" and he kept his piano and guitar and all of his music in there and I would lay in bed at night with my window open listening to the sound of his voice singing softly to me from behind his closed door mixed with the traffic noise from the freeway outside.  It was actually a beautiful way to fall asleep.  We had a Christmas tree covered in tiny blue lights and silver tinsel because he loved to decorate it that way and I could see it from my bed.  I still smile when I see a blue tree, which isn't very often.:) We had this crazy siamese cat who would run around the apartment and claw his way up the drapes until he reached the top and then throw himself off like a kamikaze.  I thought it was pretty funny but I don't think dad did.  

Sometimes, on the weekend we'd head down the street to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream shop where they had 31 flavors to choose from but we always chose the exact same thing. Dad liked banana splits with hot fudge and I always ordered a Pralines and Cream ice cream cone. It didn't really matter to me what we were eating.  The best part was that we'd take it outside to a bench and then just talk to each other in the sunshine.  I tried to eat mine really slow.  I treasured that time with him so much.  It was relaxed and special and I never had to be anything but me.  Every once in awhile we'd switch it up and head to the Thrifty Drugstore. They didn't have as many flavors but they scooped out their ice cream with these funny cylindrical scoopers so it came out looking like a short tube.  You could get 3 scoops for a dollar back then but I usually opted for just two.

Over the years, dad developed a lactose intolerance and now he can't eat dairy without some uncomfortable consequences.  But he's coming to visit me in a few weeks and I've been experimenting with non-dairy ice cream that uses coconut cream as its base.  I even found some pretty yummy non-dairy chocolate chips to go on top.  And I have a very comfy bench under a willow tree by the water in the sunshine just waiting for him.  He still loves to talk story.

I saw an interesting video yesterday where a woman interviewed several adults about how they feel when they eat chocolate and then asked the same question of a few children.  The adults said things like "guilty", "like I'll have to go for a run after work now", "like I'm numb", or "I just don't eat it".  But oh from the mouths of babes... The children said, "happy", "grateful", and "good".  I think someone should come up with the "Eat Like A Child" diet.  

I wish you all a happy, grateful, good memory filled food day today.:)