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Cooking Up Better Memories

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 04:16 PM

Many times after watching an episode of the Food Network series “Chopped,” I find myself wanting a dish that was featured in the show — a cook-off competition in which professional chefs receive a basket of ingredients they must use in creative ways to present a complete meal.
 
My son, who rarely does anything with me, thinks this show is one of the greatest things since chopped liver. So we watch it together.
 
Of course, neither of us is a good enough cook to replicate the dishes that the chefs come up with, but we still have plenty of fun talking about what we would do with similar ingredients.
 
It was in that way that one Sunday night I found myself craving pound cake, which all three “Chopped” finalists had to use in their dessert course. I remembered how my mother used to make her own version of Peach Melba, using toasted pound cake, ice cream, and canned peaches.
 
But at the thought of canned peaches, a stop sign flashed before my eyes.
 
When I was hospitalized for chemotherapy — and for a year after each bone marrow transplant — I couldn’t eat fresh fruit because it might carry bacteria that could endanger my fragile immune system.
 
So for all that time, I had to eat canned fruit — and peaches were my favorite. Now I associate canned peaches with cancer, and I don’t want to go near them.
 
Friends have told me of similar associations. For example, one woman avoided ice cubes for a long time because her mouth was so dry that she often sucked on them during chemotherapy.
 
When I was hospitalized for three and a half months about five years ago, I ate a lot of chicken pot pie. It was bland but nutritious, and one of the only meals I could tolerate. But ever since then, just the thought of it has made me queasy.
 
There are other things that can trigger bad memories as well: a velveteen scarf my mother gave me while I was hospitalized; a few loose, comfortable T-shirts I wore in the hospital so that I would feel more like a regular person and less like a patient.
 
I don’t want to wear any of them. But I don’t want to get rid of them either. I did wear the clothes T-shirts briefly last year when I was in the hospital with pneumonia, but afterward they went right back in their corner.
 
And by the way, I found a way around my pound cake dilemma: My new recipe called for toasted cake topped with vanilla ice cream and raspberries.  
 
I made some for my son, too, and we created a new memory just for the two of us.

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Ronni-Gordon
Many times after watching an episode of the Food Network series “Chopped,” I find myself wanting a dish that was featured in the show — a cook-off competition in which professional chefs receive a basket of ingredients they must use in creative ways to present a complete meal.
cancer, peach melba, pound cake, chemotherapy, Food Network
453
2014-16-03
Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 04:16 PM
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