Food Memory Recall

The one thing about food is the life long memory it can create: good or bad. I was 10 years old when my dad moved the family to Camden, New Jersey — one of most violent and corrupted cities in the U.S. to make his fortune. He had purchased a Chinese restaurant located across from the Campbell Soup factory. Thinking with all the hundreds of people working at the factory, it was a sure win to success. Unfortunately, he found out the hard way that wasn’t true. He also realized how dangerous our new neighborhood was, and kept us home from school while hoping to sell the restaurant quickly to the next unsuspecting dreamer.

During that time, we lived in an apartment above the restaurant. From the window, I was able to see into the factory’s delivery yard. One day, I saw a big dump truck full of tomatoes. It backed into a cement ditch and dumped the load. The tomatoes sat there rotting for days before it was moved inside. Needless to say, the experience scarred me for life from eating canned soups, especially the tomato. I refused to eat tomato soup of any kind — until about 12 years ago when I opened a cafe and came up with a tomato soup recipe. It was a hit with the customers and I learned to like tomato soup again…

M’s Gallery Cafe special: Basil Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwich for $6.50


13 Comments on “Food Memory Recall

  1. I live only a mile or two outside the farthest city limits of Camden, NJ. My grandfather worked at Cambells soup during the depression, but hated it. It was his job to stir the giant vats of tomato soup! I have always believed the tomato soup was so popular early on because it would have been made with fresh Jersey tomatoes, the most heavenly, candy-esque tomato in the world.

    But you are right about the crime, the devastation to the neighborhoods and abandoned real estate. Both my parents grew up there, and the city was a good place back in those days. But the suburban sprawl drew bodies away, and it just degraded further. There are still residents who cling to their tiny neighborhoods and try to make the best of it.

    Great photos, homemade soup’s the best, anyway.

  2. Nicely composed shot Emily. I think the bright orange tone from the tomato soup has added a strong visual element to this shot. Needless to say this foodie shot looks delicious.

    • I have thought about it but only if someone else can do the recipe writing part. I cook by eyes more than measuring. And it’s difficult for me to articulate the steps in words than to demonstrate the steps live.

  3. mmm.. looks really yummy. Where I live, we get food like this only in the large hotels or western restaurants. *sigh*

  4. Wow! That looks way better than the grilled cheese (Kraft singles on Wonder Bread) and tomato soup (Campbell’s, of course, and made with milk) that my mom used to make me when I was a kid.

    As far as I am concerned, any grilled cheese sandwich should have at least that much cheese on it!

    Think I may need to go raid the fridge to get some cheese to snack on!

    • I am not a fan of Campbell’s tomato soup. Everytime I see their ad, the image of that truck load of rotting tomatoes in the ditch flash before my eyes. And I agree with the cheese. You can’t call it grilled cheese without using at least 4 slices! 🙂

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