The Taste of Childhood?


On last night’s (slightly over-excited) No Reservations: Spain, Anthony Bourdain came to the conclusion that many chefs are sentimentalists, forever chasing the flavors of their childhoods. He asked one chef, “What’s the taste of your childhood?” and the chef replied that it was lamb, grilled over a fire. Just then, a hunk of grilled beef playfully colored to look like charcoal came out of his kitchen. So there you have it.

Obviously the question is sentimental, easily made light of. But I thought about it, and if I had to nail it down to one taste, I think it would be the potato kugel from Recipes for a Small Planet that my mother used to make.

What’s yours? What one dish or flavor zaps you back to your childhood? And do you make yourself it now?

Here’s the recipe for the potato kugel (which bears little resemblance to a noodle kugel). I haven’t ever made it as an adult. Too much grating.

Potato Kugel
From Recipes for a Small Planet
Yield: about 15 squares

6 average potatoes
2-3 carrots
1 big onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs
2 cups yogurt, plus extra for serving
1/3 cup grated cheese [Parmesan, I think]

Grate the potatoes, carrots and onion into a large bowl. Drain off the liquid that will accumulate around the edges of the mixture before going on.

Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the grated cheese. Oil a 7-inch-by-11-inch or a 9-inch-by-9-inch pan. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan. Place the pan into a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes to an hour. When the kugel is nearly done, it will test dry, like a cake, the edges should be brown, and it will smell delicious. Before you remove it from the oven, add the grated cheese over the top, and leave it in the oven 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Serve either hot or cold, with additional yogurt if desired.