Can you really ‘eat your memories’? We think you can. Flavorful food has a way of bringing those good memories right back to the forefront.
By Jacob & Allie Studenroth
Flavor memories are the strongest memories.
Indeed, all senses run high – the sight of hard work in the kitchen, the sound of the clattering of pots and pans and laughter of guests at the table, the smell of the meal to come, and the taste – above all the taste.
I grew up in the back of my grandmother’s restaurant. Well, to clarify, I grew up in the back of a Lebanese restaurant that my Jewish (non-Lebanese) grandmother ran for 38 years. The El Morocco. You may have heard of it; it was an icon. Truly special and crazy busy for many, many years. My memories of the sights of a kitchen as large as my entire house, the sounds of cooks laughing and gossiping, singing and yelling as they worked, the smells of pots simmering and ovens baking, and the tastes stolen snacks enjoyed as I hid in secret nooks and crannies of the restaurant.
By the time my wife, Allie, and I married, “The El,” as we called it, had long since closed its doors and my grandmother had long since passed away. But those flavor memories persisted.
When I began working late, and often stressful, nights in the industry, Allie taught herself to make the food that graced my dinner table as a child. Indeed, my wife recreated the very same soulful flavors that nourished my grandmother so many years ago when she closed up at The El for the night and arrived home as we all slept. This food, these flavor memories, now nourished me, late at night so many years later.
I invite you to share a taste of this. Prepare a favorite recipe here that we have culled from the food traditions of Lebanon and Morocco, Israel, and Egypt. I hope that you feel the love of our family and cherish some of our persistent flavor memories.
Don’t forget a bottle of wine to accompany your feast.
But how to choose the right bottle? Remember: “What grows together, goes together.” So, we head to the Beqaa Valley, in Lebanon, for a Rhône-inspired red blend that is two-parts deliciousness, one-part pairing with your street food flavor memories, above: Massaya “Le Columbier” Beqaa Valley, 2016 ($15).
Inspired by his dog’s happy life, Jacob and Allie Studenroth’s Wise Old Dog shop occupies 2,800 square feet at 612 South Quaker Lane, and was voted “Best Wine Shop” in the 2018 Best of West Hartford. The shop is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Phone: 860-523-5779, Facebook or Instagram (@thewiseolddog).
You can also read the full issue of West Hartford Magazine here.