MEMORIES IN A BOTTLE

I’m bummed about the “hook” that turned up, but I wanted to write something about food this week in honor of ROOTS’ launch. ROOTS: Where Food Comes From and Where It Takes Us is a new anthology from BlogHer—and a post from this blog, “The Kneecap,” is included. The e-book went live Tuesday. I’m thrilled to have my work featured along with pieces from some of this country’s most talented food bloggers! Here are some links where you can learn more about ROOTS: http://www.prweb.com/releases/BlogHer/Roots-eBook/prweb10793123.htm and BlogHer.comhttp://www.blogher.com/bookclub/roots-where-food-comes-and-where-it-takes-us.  Meanwhile, closer to home …

“What’s this red tag?” I thought as I reached for a bottle of my favorite barbecue sauce. “Clearance? While supplies last?” Clearly, my neighborhood supermarket is about to stop selling Sticky Fingers barbecue sauces.

Okay, it’s not the end of the world. I can order sauces from the Sticky Fingers website, and maybe the competing market up the street still carries them. But for me, Sticky’s means more than just convenience in a bottle.

My son was attending the College of Charleston (SC) in the late ‘90s when he discovered the regional restaurant chain. Downtown Charleston’s Sticky Fingers was the first place he brought his dad and me when we came to visit him at school. He worked there for a while when he’d finished classes and was pondering his career. And on a recent trip back, he posted on Facebook, “Sticky Fingers—Charleston. Like I’d have my first meal back anywhere else.”

So I was delighted to find Sticky’s sauces at my grocery here in Cincinnati. The Memphis Original became my go-to condiment. Even if I didn’t need any, I’d smile when I passed the shelf. You see, I haven’t visited Charleston since my son moved away in 2001. I’ve missed the picturesque market, the horse-drawn carriages, the impossibly lush foliage, the place “where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean.” The display always brought back memories of great meals, a fascinating city, and, of course, good times with my son. I can still get the sauce, but I’ve lost an opportunity to spark the memories.

Food, you see, is so much more than just fuel for the body—or instant gratification of the taste buds. It’s family; it’s comfort; it’s culture. Try a new cuisine—it’s adventure. Growing up in a Jewish family, I quickly learned that all momentous occasions are built around food. (Think matzo, think latkes. They tried to kill us; we won; let’s eat.) Of course, this is a premise of the ROOTS anthology, too.

For now, there was nothing to do but take advantage of the clearance sale. Hey, I told you I was Jewish. I grabbed an extra bottle of Sticky’s Memphis Original and one of Carolina Sweet. As I left the store, my bag and my heart were both a little heavier.

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