Culinary Memories Of Better Times

Food columnist Bob Leo reflects on experiences shared with his grandfather.

I was all set to do a piece on Homarus Americanus (Maine Lobster) this week. I was going over some notes when the phone rang.

It was my sister, my 88 year old grandfather had just passed away.

He surely paid his dues and it was his time, so in his honor I am about to embark on a journey of culinary memories. Please bear with me, I'm shooting from the hip here. I write alot about traditions and comfort foods and memories and many of them are flooding my mind right now.
One of my oldest memories is Gramps pancake breakfasts, thin crepe like German pancakes with Jimmy Dean smoked sausage and real maple syrup and lots of milk. Five generations have enjoyed those pancakes. Gramps had a real green thumb too. He had jimmy rigged a series of gutters and what not to collect rain water in big vats to irrigate his garden.The original McGyver, it was always fun to see what contraption he concocted next. He was an avid hunter who gave me my first taste of venison. We would save the loins for steaks and use the rest for stew or meatballs.
As years went by and I opened my first restaurant Gramps was my official shrimp peeler, he worked cheap (I payed him in beer). He also made a mean fish chowder. It really should have been called bacon and fish chowder but thats another story. Once we cooked a mess of fresh trout (I don't know why they call it that). Fresh caught trout pan fried and drizzled with lemon. I can still taste it.
Gramps was a shot and a beer guy (old school) and on a few occasions we attempted home brewing down the cellar. We were much better at drinking beer than we were at making it. He had a commode in the middle of the cellar, no walls, no privacy, just a toilet and a cot in the corner of the back porch. (I'm not sure but that might have had something to do with me.) In October I would go to Karl's sausage Kitchen on Rt 1 and pick up some funky German sausages. We would saute saurerkraut with onions and caraway seeds, the lay the sausage on top and steam them in beer. It was our own personal Octoberfest.
I could go like this for a good while longer but I think you get my point. So the next time I write about family traditions or passing on memories or old recipes or creating new ones, remember, I practice what I preach. So now I'm gonna have a shot and a beer for old times sake. Zutabrutz Gramps . Rest in peace.


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