Today we welcome back guestblogger, Ashley Acornley, RD, LDN to Write from the Inside Out. Ashley blogs at Fresh From the Farm, which is packed with useful information about finding nutritious and tasty farm fresh foods in your area.  Please check it out! Enjoy as Ashley shares her first food memory.

For those who have read MFK Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me, the author describes her first food memory as eating warm peach pie with thick cream poured on top. Her father served this dessert to her and sister Anne while traveling back home after a trip to Los Angeles. She states that she does not remember what she ate, except for the peach pie at the end of the meal. She describes her food experience by saying, “Perhaps that is because it was the first conscious one, for me at least; but the fact that we remember it with such queer clarity must mean that it had other reasons for being important. I suppose that happens at least once to every human. I hope so.” I can relate to MFK Fisher with my own food memories throughout my life, because most of the time it isn’t the foods that are important to you, it is the people that you shared the foods with and the experience you had at that time.

My earliest food memory dates back to when I was about four years old. My younger brother and I absolutely adored Christmas morning when we were children, and we used to get up really early in the morning and wake our parents out of bed in order to open up our gifts. My parents of course did not want to wake up as early as my brother and I did, so we were told that we could not open any gifts until breakfast was made and coffee was prepared. In the meantime, my brother and I would impatiently sit at the top of the staircase, staring down at the glowing Christmas tree in excitement with all of our mysterious gifts placed underneath the tree.

My mother was always the first one to get out of bed, and while still in her pajama bottoms and white shiny Isotoner slippers, would carefully hurdle over my brother and I at the top of the staircase to start the coffee in the kitchen. At the time I did not drink coffee, but I can distinctly remember the strong, bitter aroma that encompassed the entire house and the sound of the coffee percolating into the pot. Then, my mom would reach into the refrigerator and pull out a cylindrical tube of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. I know this may sound very trivial to others, but baking Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning has turned into a tradition since that year. I can remember the distinct “pop” of the can and the sound of the cardboard and foil unraveling in order to get to the dough. I can smell the vivid and sweet aroma of cinnamon and bread seeping from the oven for the short ten minutes they take to bake. Once the cinnamon rolls were finished baking, that was a sign to my brother and I that it was time to race downstairs and open up our gifts.

I always waited until I finished unwrapping my presents to go into the kitchen and select a cinnamon roll to eat. I enjoyed savoring the smell of the rolls cooling off in the kitchen while opening my presents, and eventually the smell made me so hungry that my stomach would start to growl. I selected the largest cinnamon roll in the batch, and remember taking a blunt butter knife and spreading a heaping portion of gooey white icing on top of the roll, making sure to melt the icing into all of the nooks and crannies of the roll. To be honest, I do not remember exactly what the cinnamon roll tasted like at that time in my life, I just remember all of the events that preceded the consumption of my cinnamon roll on Christmas Day.

From that year forward, the smell of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls baking in the oven and coffee brewing reminds me of Christmas Day.  Not only do I love the taste of cinnamon rolls, but I enjoy reminiscing about what that food represents to me. It brings me back to my childhood and being together with my family. It reminds me of when my parents were still happily married, and the biggest concern my brother and I had were the gifts underneath our Christmas tree. Just like MFK Fisher says, “When I think of that food, it is the people I see.” Although my mom cannot fully replicate the memories behind baking the original Pillsbury cinnamon buns now, she still continues to bake them every Christmas morning with a steaming pot of hot coffee, and I get excited to open my Christmas gifts once again.

Ashley Acornley, RD, LDN

Ashley is originally from Philadelphia, PA and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Kinesiology from Penn State University in August 2008. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC in May 2010 and is currently working on completing her Master’s Degree in Nutrition. Ashley is also an AFAA certified personal trainer and has been training clients for the past four years. She enjoys staying active by participating in 5Ks, triathlons, and other competitive events. She also practices boxing, yoga, and strength training at her local gym. Besides physical activity, Ashley has found a new interest for cooking, baking, and visiting the local farmer’s markets in Raleigh. Ashley is especially interested in wellness and sports dietetics and enjoys teaching her clients how to stay healthy, motivated, and physically active!

Ashley’s blog, “Fresh From the Farm,” can be found here

Your Turn

What are your favorite food memories and how could you turn them into material for your poetry/fiction/nonfiction/memoir?