the taste of memory

March 13th, 2013

Years ago when we lived in Ottawa, there was a coffee shop in the Glebe that served this amazing sunflower-seed hummus and cucumber sandwich on triangle-shaped multigrain bread. I wasn’t a super-adventurous eater back then, so I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to try this sandwich in the first place. Maybe a friend recommended it to me when we went there for lunch, and I wanted to look cool? I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it immediately became one of my favorite foods.

Sadly, I probably only ate three or four of those sandwiches before the coffee shop closed. Shortly after that, the Navy decided they needed Troy elsewhere and we left Canada. I tried many times to recreate that sandwich at home but could never quite do it, even though I already had a go-to hummus recipe. Eventually I gave up, deciding that maybe it was the bread, or the ambiance of the place, or the company in which I ate it that made the sandwich so tasty.

Today as I was scooping some hummus onto a plate for Elliora’s lunch, that sandwich popped into my head for the first time in probably a decade. Thinking, Eh, what the heck, I threw a quarter-cup of the Trader Joe’s hummus in the food processor with a quarter-cup of sunflower seeds and some toasted flaxseed because it happened to be sitting next to the sunflower seeds in my fridge. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and whizzed it all together as best I could, scraping the sides of the processor bowl a couple of times to make sure it all got mixed in. Then I spread that on toasted multigrain bread and topped it with a few spinach leaves because I don’t have any cucumbers at the moment.

The first bite had me laughing, because it tasted EXACTLY like I remember the original sandwich tasting. Which seems ridiculous, right? The original recipe included cucumber slices, not spinach leaves; and I’m pretty sure flaxseed wasn’t involved (although who knows, maybe it was). What are the odds that I would off-handedly, randomly create an accurate replica of something I haven’t eaten since last century, when all my previous attempts at the time failed? So I’m thinking one of two things happened here: either I really did manage to fairly accurately recreate that sandwich, or it’s been so long since I ate it that my taste buds were fooled by a good-enough facsimile.

Either way, I don’t really care. I’m happy to have a delicious new sandwich filling—one that has the power to transport me to Bank Street in 1999, sitting in a cafe that doesn’t exist anymore, watching the rain through the windows and thinking about that cool kitchen gadget at the Glebe Emporium I wish was within my budget.

11 Responses to “the taste of memory”

  1. Mrs. Wilson says:

    That sounds quite delicious. It’s a crime that there aren’t Trader Joes in Canada.

  2. Sarah says:

    I really shouldn’t read your blog while I’m hungry.
    Come and make me a snack.

  3. Jill says:

    I agree… it sounds delicious! I need to go to Trader Joe’s now! :-)

  4. Sonja says:

    Congrats on finding the elusive sandwich! :-)

  5. Melissa says:

    Some people are smell-remembers. Some people are object-rememberers or sound-rememberers. I’m a taste-rememberer. Foods are associated so strongly with memories and feelings in my mind. For me, it’s the California burrito from a tiny hole-in-the-wall taco shop called Rico’s in San Diego. Luckily, it’s still there so I get my fix at Christmas time… but I know I could never replicate that. It tastes like high school summers on the way to the beach.

  6. Kandi says:

    I love taste/smell memories. I’m glad you were able to recreate it. It sounds really good, I’ll have to try this.

  7. Deborah says:

    I get it…happens to me frequently! I’m all about taste AND scent memories. SO glad you found the solution; especially since the place closed down.

    I have two recipes I would LOVE to recreate, but have had no luck. “Key West Mahi-Mahi” from a defunct restaurant in Apollo Beach, Fl – it had this lemon-y caper sauce that was truly incredible.

    …and these dumplings from a Dim Sum restaurant in Oakland where the dough on the outside was probably a rice dough, but it had a perfect balance of savoury/sweet and the pork filling was to die for….not sure if they are still open or not – used to have to drive around the block waiting for ‘our person’ in line to make their way up and around the block to even get in the door to place an order. Yep. The restaurant was THAT good.

    I might have to try your concoction…I LOVE a good hummus! …and cucumbers….and sunflower seeds. I could take or leave the flax.

  8. Life of K says:

    I can’t remember if I knew you lived in Ottawa. Either way I’m glad you found your sandwich!

  9. SAJ says:

    Wow! It’s kinda like reading a NEW blog post from one of your favorite bloggers who never blogs anymore! You take me back! Just kidding. I love this post. :)

  10. OMSH says:

    Get some cucumbers and you’ll know for certain, right?! :)

  11. BeachMama says:

    How lovely to have such a fond memory of Ottawa, I wish I could think if what is there now instead of the coffee shop, I think it is a children’s store :(