Monday, May 18, 2009

Remembering Oatmeals Breakfasts Past

I seem to be thinking a lot about food lately. Food and memory seem to be intertwined for me, which should not be surprising since memory is largely about being able to find food. And I'm hardly the first to make the connection between food and memory, Proust famously started remembering things because of petite madeleines.

I am mostly remembering all the camping trips I took as child and young man. Today it was seeing the packages of instant oatmeal in all their flavors that brings back those mountain mornings. I remember that I had a definite hierarchy of which packets were better or worse. I liked the apple and cinnamon ones with their funny little bits of dried apples and the fake dairy powder. The 'maple' flavor was okay, but even back then I had a preference for fruit. Terrible was if I got stuck with a packet of plain. I think I recall liking the peaches and cream flavor okay. But apple was definitely tops. The flavor I saw today was strawberry and I don't recall that one specifically, but I suspect I disliked it for not tasting either of real strawberries or artificial in a way that appealed to my childish palate.

I remember specifically that we'd bring water to boil, rather quickly at over 2750 meters in elevation (9,022 feet), and then carefully pour it into the bowl. I always wanted just enough to moisten the oatmeal and not enough to make it goopy. My mother liked it a lot better when it was more like traditional oatmeal, I wanted it to be almost like oatmeal cookie dough in consistency. Plus without as much water it could be eaten faster since not as much heat would be transferred. Perhaps my aversion grew out of an early experience of trying to eat hot oatmeal on a cold morning too quickly.

I cannot say which camping trip it was specifically, but I remember it was in the beat up camper that my father had before he got the big trailer. It seemed to be at Steamboat Reservoir, but we went there so often it could be a composite memory rather than one specif instance when I got the oatmeal just so and was quite happy with it.

Tomorrow I shall have peaches and whole milk on my oatmeal. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.

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