Thanks for the Memories

   By ChefErin  Apr 13, 2010

While having lunch with my husband a few weeks ago, I noticed the appetizer menu included queso dip and chips. By the description, I was assured that the "queso" dip was made with a liquid cheese-type product - some gooey molten mixture of picante sauce, cheese flavoring, and oil.  

We didn’t order the appetizer but it stuck in my mind. So much so, that later that day I found myself buying a box of shelf-stable cheese product and a can of spiced tomatoes to make my own "queso" dip. You might be appalled to learn that a trained chef would succumb to thoughts of faux cheese and salty chips but I have to admit that I am occasionally tempted to stray.  

I think it’s the food memory that pushes me over the edge. There are certain junk foods from my youth that hold a mystique. They were the special treat, the comfort food, the guilty pleasure. Here’s the kicker though, my memory has the tendency to exaggerate goodness. My food memory gets wrapped up in other elements - who I was with, what I was doing, where I was.  

My fond memories of queso dip were colored by the fact that the last time I ate it was about 13 years ago while living in Japan. My father used to send me care packages of western food. I think he would actually ship me food that he wished he could eat but that my mother wouldn’t let him buy. Boxes would come loaded with spiced pork shoulder in a can, faux cheese, cured sausages and more. I would laugh every time I opened a package from him. I would have rarely eaten these items had I been in the US but here they were laid out like pirate’s treasure in the foreign land. A glorious reminder of my distant homeland. When presented with snack mixes of toasted soybeans and dried fish, I can’t tell you what a wonderful treat crappy queso dip was to me and my western friends! 

So, on rainy afternoon in March, called by a distant siren song of my junk food memory, I made the cheesy, salty, spicy goo was lousy! I mean really a let-down. Perhaps it was the absence of laughing friends, plenty of beer, and Japanese game shows in the background, but sadly my food memory did not stand up to reality. I should have left that bright yellow box on the shelf of my mind but I tempted fate. I thought it was the food that I savored but it was so much more.  

Have you ever revisited a favorite junk food only to find that it wasn’t as good as you remembered? Or was it? Share your favorite junk food memory!  


Make a Comment

ChefErin by ChefErin | SEATTLE, WA
Jul 15, 2010

wrestlingmom19 - great point! An ice cold bottle of soda pop just doesn't compare to the a plastic bottle. ~ Chef Erin

erinvictoria19 by erinvictoria19 | Brownstown, MI
Apr 29, 2010

I loved Mountain Dew in glass bottles when I was a teenager, and one would last all day. (Kids now gulp down 16 oz. of pop in 5 minutes). Mountain Dew in plastic bottles just isn't the same.

kkenty by kkenty | STONEVILLE, MS
Apr 26, 2010

Twinkies are not as good anymore!! But 5-minute fudge is still wonderful.

ChefErin by ChefErin | SEATTLE, WA
Apr 20, 2010

MadHatter - I've never heard of a turnip cake. How interesting. Now I will have to look that up. - Chef Erin

basilandcatnip by basilandcatnip | GARLAND, TX
Apr 19, 2010

Some candies, recipes have changed, they've now replaced the real sugar with high fructose corn syrup. Added more artifical colors and artifical flavors that just weren't available then. But my all time favorite luckily is organic blueberries, took me more then 20 yrs but I finally found a pint that took me back to being a kid. I notice they taste different pending where they are grown, season, time picked. My parents used to let me eat all I could eat from the local farmer.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Apr 16, 2010

i recall when i was a child, my mum used to cook and she would make all these american foods that i would LOVE. mum hasn't cooked in over 10 years, and i feel bad because my little brother has missed out on A LOT of good cooking. so when i remember something good that mum used to make, i would give her a call and see if she has the time to teach me how to make it so my little brother can experience what he never got the chance to eat. great memories there :) we just made turnip cake last week together! and i hope to think up of more recipies i used to eat when i was a child.

LoriAbramson by LoriAbramson | Louisville, KY
Apr 13, 2010

There are the ones like Twinkies and Ding Dongs that I avoid like the plague because I realize just how bad they are for me (I regret that I ever ate so many because had I skipped them then, I might not have so many fat cells now :-S). But probably my favorite treat that I have tried to go back to but find it never to be as good as my grandmother's banana pudding. That recipe off the back of the Nilla wafer box has never been replicatedor improved. To this day, I always hope to find one that is better, but alas, I am always disappointed.

ChefErin by ChefErin | SEATTLE, WA
Apr 13, 2010

girl17 - I used to love the Cherry flavor fruit pies! I recently heard someone describe the filling as fruit snot - LOL. On that note, I've decided not to revisit that food memory. Thanks for your comment - Chef Erin

girl17 by girl17 | EAGAN, MN
Apr 13, 2010

The summer when I was 12 I would walk to the market every day and buy a Hostess Fruit Pie Lemon flavor. I thought they were the best ever. I saw one in the gas station several months ago and bought it remembering how much I loved those pies. It was definitely not what I remembered or want to remember!! I haven't had one since and have no desire either.

msfriendly by msfriendly | MONROE, WI
Apr 13, 2010

I remember as a child, one hot summer day, having some good friends over to swim (a little metal pool) and afterwards having milk and Oreos. They never tasted the same as on that day!

pjclayton57 by pjclayton57 | Oceanport, NJ
Apr 13, 2010

Oh, wow! So many to choose from! I think that one of my all time favorites as a child that I have retried and not enjoyed is twinkies! To me they just don't taste the same as they used to. One of the ones that I have tried and still enjoyed was Fritos! But to me, either my taste buds have greatly changed or they are making a lot of things differently these days because so many things just don't taste the same!