I realized (gasp), that while I love to eat, there’s so much about my favorite foods that I’ve yet to research. I wouldn’t say that I’m an uninformed eater, so much as an uneducated eater. And there — the only time you’ll ever here me refer to myself as uneducated. I get the basics: free-range, grass-fed, “organic.” The things I need to know while shopping for groceries, I know — the nuances in bleu cheese? Discovering those. I hope you take that journey with me.
In the meantime, I’d like to share with you my favorite food, of all-time (encompassing 20+ years of eating solids). I’ve already admitted to not knowing how to cook. So I’m going to just describe it. No recipe, or least none that I know of, that might do it justice. If I pulled one off some website, it would be inauthentic. The women who prepare it — it’s in their blood. So, here goes.
Sounds gross, huh? Dissenters, stand down. Florets, drowned in what may be cream of broccoli (celery? mushroom?) and cheddar cheese. Smash a bag of Lay’s original potato chips on top, then bake to brown.
This, for me, is every Sunday dinner I can remember from my childhood. If you’re not from the South, dinner is the meal you eat before supper. Some call it lunch, but in the South, it’s dinner, and you eat dinner at 2:00 p.m. Other things you eat at dinner: glazed ham, collard greens, beets in syrup, and cornbread. But, ah, broccoli casserole. Can casserole coagulate? If it can, this casserole does it perfectly.
Other things about Sunday dinner worth noting: the acres of orange trees beside the winding dirt road, and the tall, fragrant lemon tree near the kitchen window of the house that my great-great-grandmother built on King Lake. The Spanish moss draping the trees in the front yard. The long, rocky path to the water, and the Easter Lilies, squared off in planters, on either side of that path. The small stone table and benches on the way toward the lake, where we’d picnic at Easter, mossed-over, chipped and fading. Gators on the bank, family on the porch.
The house was torn down in 2006, when people were into selling their property to housing developers for profit.
And the broccoli casserole — it serves a more important purpose now. It’s preservation, and it tastes like home.