When I was 12, I went to summer camp for 2 weeks. In this span of time, I made about 100 lanyards, went backpacking for the first time, and skinny-dipped in the chilly Tuolumne river. The experience from that summer that I remember the most, however, was the night of the all-camp dance when I danced my very first slow dance with Zach Rose. I knew he liked me (we had been spending rest hour doing Mad Libs together for the last week and he made me a tie-dyed T-shirt at arts-and-crafts), so it was just a matter of time. Of course, the song he asked me to dance with him to wasn't even slow (Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison), and he had no idea what he was doing, but the combined feeling of nervouness and exhiliration as he guided me by the hand to the middle of the dance floor (our respective bunkmates giggling and pointing at us) is a feeling I've been trying to recreate with new dance partners (so to speak) for the 15 years that have followed...with varying degrees of success.
Despite my dedicated Facebook and Google searching efforts, I have been unable to find Zach Rose anywhere--which is a little sad, but maybe it's for the best. Because maybe Zach Rose is a jerk now. Or maybe we have nothing in common. Maybe Mad Libs and pre-adolescent awkwardness wouldn't be enough to carry us through a conversation in our late twenties.
People change, I've come to learn. I change, all the time...and sometimes old memories are better when they stay memories instead of being thrust into the daylight and squeezed into awkward, sometimes painful interaction. As curious as I am about Zach Rose, I think it might be better to leave him alone (along with the 15 Zach Roses on Facebook whom I have confirmation are NOT him) and save the memory of the goofy, awkward evening of my first taste of romance for whenever a decidedly unromantic day might come my way in the future.
The thing about food and cooking is that there is plenty of room for both old memories and the present. Old recipes can be made fresh and different by adding new and interesting twists. It feels safe, probably because I know I can always return to the original recipe. One old favorite recipe that I've tweaked over the years is a take on the cinnamon toast my mother used to make for me. I find that her traditional version of it--bread, butter, cinnamon, and sugar is what I crave when I'm feeling nostalgic. When I'm busy making new memories, I prefer my version:
4 slices good-quality fresh bread (I like to use thickly sliced sourdough)
zest of 1/2 an orange
2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
Combine the zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg and butter in a small bowl until it forms a thick paste. Spread evenly on the slices of bread. Toast in a toaster oven or in a conventional oven preheated to 400 degrees.