Peeps?

Yes, peeps. That spongy, grainy, yellow, styrofoam-ish baby chick shaped concoction of sugar and who knows what else that appears in plain view in every grocery or discount store in America somewhere around the time of the vernal equinox.

This is your subject?

But peeps aren’t even food!?!

I agree.

But peeps are something I remember stuffing in my face by the handful as a kid around Easter time. Some memory trigger of a simpler day gets pulled when I squish the air out of another sugar bird between my teeth. Granted, they aren’t that great as far as candy goes, and certainly can’t be good for you, but since I consume them only once a year about this time, I figure its in keeping with my “moderation and variety” stance.

This is the beauty of food. It takes us places. It can transport us to a time and place the instant the aroma reaches the receptors in our nostrils.

I can walk into any smoky diner of any state in the Union, and that smell takes me back to Murphy’s steakhouse in my hometown where everything on the menu is meat and potatoes. Locals don’t need a menu and newbies shouldn’t either. Just go ahead and get the hot hamburger with fries and gravy over all and you’ll be good to go. Arrange for a place to lay down right after eating.

When I get a whiff of the hot oil of a wok from an Asian restaurant wafting outside in the cool of the evening air, I instantly step back to the years I lived in northern California, where I went to graduate school and eventually met my wife. Why in the cool of the evening? That was the time of day she and I took walks together, and the winds off the coast seemed to settle down, as did the rest of the community. This is the gift of memory.

It’s good to call on this gift from time to time. Be it peeps or pasta, when the moment invites the memory, accept its invitation. Stop, reflect and find another to share it with.

We’ll set the table; you bring the conversation.

Peeps