Food Memoir

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Eating it when it first comes out of the oven is an extraordinary experience. The steam rises, omitting a delightful aroma that will make any mouth water. The gooey pools of cinnamon and brown sugar juxtapose mountains of crusty goodness; sit atop a moist, firm cake. Sliding a knife through the warm cake in order to retrieve a piece from the center; which is the most delectable part; promotes anticipation for the moment when the cinnamon, brown sugar and cake, can touch the lips. Placing a piece in the mouth and feeling its soft yet crunchy texture as well as tasting its sweet and spicy flavors, creates a wonderful feeling of love and joy. Eating it with a cup of piping hot coffee makes the dish even more enjoyable.

As far back as I can remember my mother had always made coffee cake. My parents are both teachers so when we would get enough snow to where Anne Arundel County Public Schools would call a snow day, my mother would get up early and make the family coffee cake for breakfast. As a child I remember waking up to the smell of the sweet, spicy treat and knowing that there was no school that day. This would automatically create a felling of over-exuberance just knowing that I did not have to go to school. Secondly, I would be ecstatic knowing that I could play outside in the snow all day. This creates memories of playing with my neighborhood friends and building huge snow people, snow forts and playing commando with snow balls.

I remember running downstairs in my pajamas to grab a piece of coffee cake, but the piece would have to be out of the center since that is where the cinnamon and sugar collected into puddles of sweet heaven. The coffee cake next to the edge of the pan was too crunchy for me so I always left those pieces for my father and sister. I would put my center piece of coffee cake on a small plate, pour myself a glass of milk (now that I'm older, it's coffee) and run into the living room to watch weekday cartoons; or the dreadful news if my dad had beat me into the living room. I recall eating my coffee cake very slowly in mouse-like bites in order to savor my piece. However, my milk would be gone in a flash since the cake had a tendency to stick to my teeth and I needed to wash it down.

After I had eaten my coffee cake and chugged my milk, I would run upstairs, and grab my snowsuit and boots. I then dashed downstairs so that my mom or dad could help me bundle up. Next, I would run outside where I knew any number of my neighborhood friends would already be romping in the snow. We would play all day or until our fingers and toes were so numb we thought they might fall off.

To this day my mother still makes her family famous coffee cake on snow days. Although now that I'm older, it doesn't quite hold the same excitement that it once did since, even though it might be a snow day for schools, I still have to work. However, the tradition that she created will always hold a special place in my heart.

While my specific food memoir created an emotion of joy and love, food can also create empowerment, bind groups and generate community boundaries, as well as cause conflict and reflect social and economic status. Editor of "Through the Kitchen Window", Arlene Voski Avakian has provided us with examples of societies, and especially women's, experiences with food and cooking. Food has a way of creating empowerment for certain individuals in the way the food is prepared and served. People can take advantage of food by using it as a tool to help them make money, which gives them power. In the short piece, "New Directions", by Maya Angelou, Mrs. Annie Johnson gains her power by making a life for her and her children by selling food. Annie's husband had left her and her children to study religion and possibly take up with the preacher's single daughter, unbeknownst to Annie. Her husband took all of their money, leaving her with a one bedroom home. Annie did not want to leave...
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