I spent this past weekend back in Virginia’s Tidewater region, my college stomping grounds. Except there was more nomming than stomping—my jaws got the most exercise. You see, it has been 14 years since I visited my alma mater, and I had 48 hours to reacquaint myself with all the amazing food I had been missing.
I put up a FB status post announcing my intention to spend the weekend eating crabcakes made with real lump backfin crabmeat made from righteous Chesapeake Bay blue crabs (as opposed to the stringy, bland, imported crab meat that most restaurants use). A long comment thread from Virginia friends ensued, in which we planned my every meal. Must-haves included pulled pork sandwiches from a beloved barbecue pit off I-64, house dressing dip at Colonial Williamsburg’s Cheese Shoppe, and the Hot Holly sandwich at Paul’s Deli, a sub of such memorable excellence that fellow William and Mary alum Jon Stewart has mentioned it on-air (for the curious, it consists of hot turkey, bacon and melted American cheese on a toasted sub roll). I also brought back three pounds of Smithfield ham, a regional specialty that’s surprisingly hard to find in New York.
I had everything on the list and the crabcakes twice. The barbecue sandwich was acquired on the way to the Richmond airport and eaten on the plane home. All that food really added to the tremendous wave of nostalgia I felt being back on campus for the first time in more than a decade. It tasted even better than I remembered it, although it was probably just the same as it always was.
What food stokes your nostalgia? Something familiar from back home? Old family recipes? An exotic delicacy you discovered on a trip?