The following is part of a 20 day challenge to get into a better habit of blogging. Each day presents a new prompt. Today’s prompt: Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory. Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice. Each post is a rough draft, so please excuse typos, flights of fancy, or hyperbole. (But feel free to leave suggestions for improvement, corrections, constructive criticism or crass remarks in the comments below.)
The memory of my favorite childhood meal is so strong its absence hurts. It is a meal I will never be served again.
I remember those days waking up on my grandmother’s couch to commotion coming from the kitchen. It was the room next to the living room where I slept in the two-story shotgun style house. You know, shotgun as in you could open the front door of the house and fire a shotgun straight out the backdoor. At least that’s how I always understood the term.
Whenever I stayed with my grandmother she always made me breakfast. Usually it was two eggs and goetta. Pancakes might have been involved, but its been at least 25 years or more since I had a stay over at her house. I can’t clearly remember.
For anyone not from the Cincinnati area I should explain goetta (pronounced get-uh). It’s a regional specific food with German roots sold in every store where I live. It’s a mix of ground pork, seasoning and pin oats that come in a plastic tube that looks a lot like sausage patties. Goetta doesn’t necessarily keep a patty form though. I like mine best cooked the way my grandmother made it, crisp brown on both sides and warm and moist in the middle. Ketchup helps too.
The goetta my grandmother cooked was actually made in a small processing plant no more than a mile from where she lived in Covington, Kentucky, located right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. That plant still operates today.
If I think about it enough, the smell of the goetta hissing in my grandmother’s skillet mixed with the musty odor of the old house fills my nose. It would get me moving every time I stayed. I’d go into the kitchen and there would be my grandmother, standing in front of the stove, using this little press, a circular piece of metal with a handle and holes in it, to push the goetta down to make sure it evenly cooked.
She’d have my plate out, ask me how I wanted my eggs that morning, sunny side up or scrambled. I’d pour my cup of coffee. She’d put the goetta and eggs on my plate with a piece of toast and sit down and we’d talk. I loved that woman so much. Those meals were always pure happiness and nothing outside of that little kitchen existed. I can never remember goetta not being served on a sunshiny day there.
After my grandmother’s years of disappearing into dementia and finally passing, and as I get older, there is a bit of sadness when I think of those memories. It doesn’t matter that goetta really hasn’t changed in 25 years. The kind I make never compares to hers.
For the rest of my life, there will always be an ingredient missing in that breakfast.