The snacks of our grandparents

Almond RocaWhile walking down the snack aisle of a local discount drug store today, I passed by tall, pink tins of Almond Roca. Thinking of those toffee candies wrapped in chopped almonds took me on a journey back to my grandparents’ house so many years ago.

Those memories reminded me of other treats that my family would snack on, dredging up recollections of gatherings of years ago. It brought forth of flashes of people who have since passed on and houses that have since changed hands.

Maybe I can get a little nostalgic at times, but is there a snack or food item that reminds you of your family?

For me, Almond Roca was a treat that my grandma would indulge in just occasionally. I seem to recall that she would snack on hard, ovoid discs of sugar-free candy more often. She would also drink diet cola, switching over the years from Tab to caffeine-free Diet Coke.

Her house during the holidays would also include dishes of hard candy (but not sugar free). There were also nuts in their shells, and cracking them was an annual challenge for me.

On the other side of my family, my great-grandparents would have dishes or jars of hard coffee candy, twisted in a distinctive black-and-gold checkered wrappers. I think it was the only candy offered, because I remember eating them although I wasn’t the world’s biggest coffee fan at age 5.

More pleasant were the jars of macadamia nuts. The strong, dry and nutty scent from a freshly opened jar was a strong memory that I gleefully remember whenever I can get a jar of my own.

Out of respect for today’s increasing insistence that we focus on healthy eating, I would note candy wasn’t the only food that sparks fond memories. My grandparents and great-grandparents often kept small gardens that would take up varying portions of their backyards.

I can’t remember everything that was grown, but I remember fresh strawberries and green beans as well as cherries and tomatoes. One set of great-grandparents would jar and pickle nearly everything under the sun.

To my grown-up regret, those pickled veggies were prepared in a Japanese style that I didn’t find tasty as a kid with a predominately Western palate. I would hope that my tastes have matured over the years, but I’m a little sad that I won’t get to enjoy those veggies.

Now that I’m grown, I wonder what food memories I’ll create on my own. Like many of us, I over-rely on processed foods. While I generally enjoy it at the time, they generally fail to satisfy in the long term (for example, the idea of a McRib always sounds better than the actual product).

While the initial time investment will likely be great, I think my fondest recollections will come from what I can make myself, instead of from a box. Hopefully, I can create a meal that will remain on the table of my mind, like all of those treats from the past.