Why A Macintosh Apple Will Always Taste Like Being a Kid To Me

Posted: October 23, 2013 in Memories
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For me, it’s these Macintosh apples:

Mmm, tastes like childhood...

Mmm, tastes like childhood…

For you, it may be another food, but I’m sure you know what I mean when I say that whenever I eat one of these, I’m suddenly 10 again. There’s just something about certain foods that trigger memories (both good and bad), and that association stays with us forever, it seems. I moved to the South about eight years ago, in 2005, when my daughter Sophie was 3 months old. It was a big change for a girl who grew up in Maine and spent her life thinking of herself as a “Northerner.”

I noticed many differences between life in Maine and life in Arkansas, where I’ve lived the last several years. One of those difference is the types of food available here, as opposed to what I was used to in Maine. A lot of it is the same, but when I get a craving for something that isn’t offered here, it really makes me stop to think how much food is really a part of our identities.

There’s a small window of opportunity here in Arkansas when Macintosh apples show up in the stores. The rest of the year, I’m forced to choose Granny Smith (no), Red Delicious (Hell,no), or Gala (Ok, if I have to), but when Fall arrives, suddenly I’m awash in a sea of apple varieties. This occurs late September to the end of October, I guess, depending on the harvest. Mostly, the ones here are Michigan Macintosh’s, but it doesn’t really matter. They’re here and I’ve been waiting for them all year.

This year, I got the chance to visit Maine, although it was such a short trip, I barely had time to process it. My best friend Angela, who I’ve known since I was 15, married her love of 10 years, and I was a bridesmaid. Our whole family turned it into a road trip, stopping briefly in Pennsylvania, where Luke grew up. There, in his childhood grocery store, I excitedly seized a bag of apples on display, just like a fat kid would sieze a big slice of chocolate cake. (I know this because I’m a former fat kid. Seriously, who else would see some food in a store, squeal, and jump up and down?) During our trip, lunches were mostly PB & J or lunch meat sandwiches, with chips and apples. I happily dug into my apple during that next lunch, and Luke and a couple of the kids decided to try these amazing Manna from Heaven apples I had been raving about.

They hated them.

“Sour,” “too tart,” and “I just don’t like that kind.”

Goodie. More for me!

Maybe they are right, and my favorite variety is tart, and certain bites will have you making “lemon” faces.

So it got me wondering, why do I love them so much?

In Maine, we have pick-your-own apple farms. I haven’t found any down here in Arkansas, so I’m assuming we just don’t have the right apple-growing weather here. But as a kid, it was one of the things I looked forward to most in the Fall. I would beg my parents for days about going, and then it always seemed like we would go on the afternoon of a school day, which would take forever to end. I was one of those kids who would be sitting in the car, long before everyone was ready to leave, just waiting. The ride to the farm always seemed several hours long, when in reality, the place was located only 20 minutes from our house. A kid’s perceptions are strange . . .

The truth is, biting into that apple as an adult allows me to be there at The Apple Farm, biting into a warm, just-picked Macintosh under a deep blue sky, surrounded by bent trees, colorful foliage, pumpkins, and the smell of crisp air and cider.

Maybe my favorite apple does have its downfalls, but when I take that first bite, even for just a few seconds, I am a happy kid again, sitting in the grass in the fading afternoon sun, with juice rolling down my chin.

Do you have a food that brings back your childhood?

Is there something you won’t eat because there’s a bad memory associated with it?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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