you are what you eat

The great French chef, Escoffier, is supposed to have said that.  I wonder what he would have said about people who eat marshmallows.

I've been thinking about the food of my childhood and growing years as I rake the embers of my memories for illumination.  (Sorry - couldn't resist that; no one's going to notice.)  Generally I can't remember what I ate.  I remember sitting on the cottage steps in the summer shelling peas and I can remember the peas, hot but barely cooked because they were so tender, swimming in butter in small amber glass bowls. Did we have anything else?  I can remember egg and onion sandwiches and raspberry vinegar at beach picnics.  Oh, I can remember eating Shepherd's Pie for lunch at the convent school I attended from age 5 to age 8, and thinking it was named for Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I remember my teeth stained blue from blueberry cobbler the day of a school recital when I had to recite "D'óu viens-tu, bergère?" and being so pleased because the shepherdess costume I wore was lavender blue and matched my teeth.  Oh, and I remember "goutée" (or was it gouter?), the afternoon snack we littlest ones were given, particularly snow apples, with pink flesh at the core. 

How is it I can't remember anything my mother cooked?  I was 8 when World War Two began and my father, a doctor, was in it soon enough, head of a Casualty Clearing Station and gone, first in Canada, then overseas.  My mother was a single mother for five  years, holding everything together with reduced finances, somehow keeping up payments on the new, elegant house my father had bought just before war was declared. I look back on the food I remember best and have finally figured out that it was based on frugality.  I remember enjoying lunch: little cubes of bread with milk and sugar, or rice pudding with raisins.  No wonder I got fat.  The only dinner meal I remember was chili con carne and I remember that because of the powdered chili seasoning I showered over it. (I didn't discover garlic till my twenties.)  Of course, there was rationing, too.  I do remember that Mother cooked liver and kidneys and sweetbreads and I still love them.  I think they weren't rationed.  

I should be. Rationed. For time, I mean.  I'm sure you've had enough.  (Does it trigger any memories?)