I've said it before, and I'll say it again. One of the greatest methods of my communication, is through food.
I so often tend to forget my years as a child. Years 0-8. The short, yet so vividly real memories. Southern Utah. My handful of consistent girlfriends throughout preschool-2nd grade. I remember every single best friend that I have ever had. My first sleepover. My baptism. Dance class. Oh, dance class. Ballet, tap, hip-hop, and jazz. I loved dance class. I remember winning the Reflections contest (thrown by the PTA) with a silly watercolor painting I created. I won 10 bucks, and I felt like I had won the lottery. I was in the play "Peter Cottontail," and my very first science project was about my grandfather's dairy farm. I had a crush on a kid named Luke and I would chase him on the playground in hopes of tackling him and covering him in kisses... I could never catch him.
My friends would bring zip-loc bags full of make-up to school to play with during recess, and one day in first grade a boy named Jace came to school with the chicken pox. I got them, and then passed them onto my baby brother. I missed school so badly that I put my mom's powdered makeup all over my face to hide the pox, and trick my dad into taking me back to school. He totally fell for it.
I remember the DARE program, and our huge backyard. We had an apricot tree, lime tree, peach tree, apple tree, and cherry tree. We let our neighbors horse roam our backyard, so that we didn't have to mow the lawn. I remember my mean pet goose, and my white pet rabbit that died in the winter. I remember the two kittens I got for my 4th birthday, and the huge pink doll house I got that same year. I remember graham crackers with white frosting, jolly ranchers, and toast. I remember my nanny. Oh, Harmonie. She was only 17 when we met for the first time, but my heavens was she (& still is) so lovely. I remember her letting us "drive" (steer) her car, and Jonny was always so much better than me. I remember our trips to the gas station where we'd get treats, and her parents huge pool we got to swim in. I was a terror for Harmonie, but I secretly knew she was my favorite person in the whole world.
I remember my pink ballerina bedroom. I remember not being able to see over the countertops when I wanted to make some oatmeal. I remember every big chow dog that we owned, and my three foster siblings. I fought with them incredible amounts, but now that I look back, I am so in love with the memories I got to create with them during the year that we had them.
I remember my mom's day care center, and piano lessons. I remember being crowned 'Little Miss San Juan County' in 1996. I was such a pageant girl. I was awarded with a turquoise stone bracelet, and a bag full of huge pink legos. I remember singing 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,' and apparently winning the judges over.
I know these were some of the hardest years on my parents- but that's not what I remember. They never made us feel like life was hard. I only remember being happy.
This all flooded back into my heart as I cooked dinner for Steven & I last night.
Navajo tacos were such a huge part of my childhood as Blanding was so close to the Indian Reservation. Many of my friends were of the Navajo descent. Many more of my mother's friends were. For almost every big event, Navajo Tacos were eaten. I remember rough brown hands kneading the dough & then frying and topping with meat, beans, cheese, and vegetables. I remember them also being doused in honey butter or dusted with powdered sugar for dessert. I remember the same brown hands showering me with love and kisses as they cared for me like one of their own.
My mouth watered as I remembered this dish, 11 years later.
And I gathered the ingredients to make it for the first time in this new chapter of my life, to share with the sweet man who didn't know me back then. To try and give him a taste of my childhood.
He ate his with meat & cheese, while I had mine with everything. He scarfed down a large piece of fry bread before I could get everything on the table, and my heart sighed watching this dish make its way into his life, as it made its way into mine over a decade ago.
I shared my memories with him over dinner, and as I did- I fell in love with the life I have lived, the people that I have loved, and the days ahead where I can feed my own children with love, tradition, and dishes that communicate my past with them. To make those I love now, become part of the past that they were not a part of before.
( r e c i p e )