Memories of Food Combinations

I am continuing through writing exercises in Old Friend From Far Away which I first wrote about here. Moving from one memoir prompt tonight I began to remember food combinations that have always been a part of my life. The traditional ones that have stayed in my family are eggs with toast, meat loaf with baked potatoes, spaghetti with French bread, and Darigold vanilla ice cream with Hershey's chocolate syrup. I think it seemed impossible to drink hot cocoa without marshmallows when I was a child.

My mom always had a weird food combination called Rolled Radish Sandwich. She would take a slice of bread, cover it with butter, take some radishes that I don't even remember being sliced, put them on top then roll it up like a burrito. She loved those for lunch on Saturdays during my childhood. With a bottle of Pepsi or Squirt she was in seventh heaven. It was a combination the siblings couldn't stand, but we enjoyed others from those childhood lunches including tomato soup with toasted cheese sandwiches, tuna fish mixed with pickles and Tang ( not the orange stuff... the Nalley's brand of salad dressing), chicken noodle soup with crackers, and Franco-American spaghetti served with a slice of while bread and butter. It was quite a feast if we were given the privilege of dining on a Swanson's frozen chicken pot pie.

Some of the combinations I savor still came from school lunch during grade school. Combinations that come to mind are chili with homemade cinnamon rolls , wieners with sauerkraut, homemade white rolls accompanying turkey gravy, and jello that seemed to go with just about anything.

My Grandma Woolum always had fried chicken with potatoes and gravy and homegrown green beans. Swiss Steak, corn on the cob, and caramel cake was a likely combination when we had dinner at Auntie Lila's. My brother does a delicious mix of eggs, potatoes, and veggies in breakfast skillets. When Mom makes pork chops applesauce is usually served. My sister is a very creative cook and her yummy salads have combined oranges with dark greens or a variety of fruits in a delicious fruit bowl.
I don't know how food combinations ever came about. I suppose some families began traditions that were passed down. Others just tried foods together and realized they worked. I love zucchini and chocolate together in breads and cakes now because of recipes I have experimented with. I also now enjoy the flavor of mint with hot chocolate. Can anyone eat Chinese pork without hot mustard and sesame seeds?

There were a few combinations that didn't work. Cinnamon on Dad's eggs was a cooking error my brother had to live with. Forgetting the clams in the chowder on Christmas Eve has been a running gag in the family. I learned early in my adult life never to serve my father a combination of ethnic foods. He threw them out the window when the chef ( myself) wasn't looking as not to hurt my feelings. What... like I wouldn't find them later?

I will still continue to remember hot beef sandwiches Mom whipped up using the leftovers from the Sunday roast. Cottage cheese always seemed to have canned Dole pineapple by it's side. If steaks were served it was always with green salad, Mom's homemade blue cheese dressing, and baked potatoes.
Have certain food combinations remained a tradition in your family?


  1. You've conjured up memories of my favorite meals that Mom used to make. Top of the list: Roast lamb with baked potatoes and Australian pumpkin (I guess it would be a type of squash over here), peas, and the most delicious gravy. Yum!
    She also made wonderful curries.
    My MIL's best dish (in my humble opinion) was chicken and biscuits, mashed potatoes and peas.
    I loved reading about your memories, as usual.
    Now I must go and get dinner because you've made me hungry :)

  2. We must be from the same era as you brought back childhood foods I remember well. I miss my grandma and mom! Great post!

  3. I miss my grandparents so much it hurts. You remind me to remember the good stuff... and there's so much of it..thank you.

  4. Oh yes - we have so many food combinations in our family - almost too many to list - some that might seem odd to others...have to have spinach on the side when we have macaroni and cheese, for instance.
    Your story about your father throwing the food out the window, made me laugh! It reminded me of when I was a child, how I stopped up the kitchen sink trying to pour the oatmeal out of my bowl, without getting caught, lol.
    Thanks for the fun post!

  5. many of the ones you mentioned.
    Except... my mom loved onion sandwiches, rather than radish.

  6. Anonymous15.3.08

    I'm so glad you're enjoying Goldberg's book. There are some amazing prompts in there and this one is a good one.

    Food combinations for me?

    Roast with potatoes and carrots (*every* Sunday afternoon), and salmon patties with macaroni & cheese.

    Did anyone mention biscuits and gravy? Oh my, now I'm hungry . . .

    Gotta eat!

    Great writing! Keep it up . . .


  7. Anonymous15.3.08

    Oh, boy-I remember most of those combinations you mention! the pork chops with applesauce on the side-haven't thought about that in years. Tomato soup just isn't the same without grilled cheese, and vice versa. Think our families read the same cookbooks?

  8. Kerri: Those combinations sound so good. Now I better go grab some breakfast!
    Thanks Tammy: Isn't it amazing how food can bring back memories?
    You're welcome Shelby: Yes, I love to focus on the good memories.
    Tinker: Another hot lunch memory- mac and cheese with spinach. I had forgotten. We had to clean up our plates at hot lunch so we would stick our peas on our milk cartons so we wouldn't have to eat them!
    Pamela: I think my mom at those too!
    tysdaddy: Anything my dad didn't like we didn't have. I don't think he liked salmon patties. It sounds good to me!
    Janet: It is amazing how so many of us have the same food memories. At our house it was Betty Crocker!

  9. Great Blog. I thought my mom was the only one who served the same food combinations. Always wondered where she got the pork chops and applesause. I think she also served corn with that meal, and maybe AuGratin Potatoes.

    One of my favorites was Homemade Chicken noodle soup. She'd make the noodles from scratch and she served the thick soup over mashed potatoes. . .Go figure! Now, I'm hungry for some home cooking! (Maybe that's what I should make for Easter - HA! HA! I usually buck tradition on the holidays!)

  10. Anonymous17.3.08

    Weirdest one I like to tell about; peanut butter, mayonaisse, and dill pickle sandwiches...I still eat them. Nice Blog!


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