Military Spouse Magazine

DEC 2018

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Adventure lies in the discovery of new restaurants, too. One of my friends takes a "get lost" day at each new station, purposely going to unexplored spots to find new places, mak- ing notes on diners to try. Military members will carry the reputation of eateries with them, spreading the word that you have to have Moose's Tooth Pizza in Anchorage, Alaska; Dole Whip at the Plantation in Hawaii; stuffed french toast at Tin Pan Galley in New York; gator bites at Cecil's Cajun Kitchen outside of Fort Polk, La. When my family reminisces of places, it's not long before we're remembering the foods. We miss something from every place. Whether it's food for food sake, or the people you share it with for fel- lowship's sake, or the hunt of finding it, be bold in your food adventures during your military life. H Our foods taste richer when we've worked for them. The strawberries from Gross Farms, N.C., were fresher because we had just picked them with friends in the early morning. The red juice brought smiles as we remembered teasing the kids we'd check for red lips if they were snitching too many. The jam we made was treasured as it held the memories of us sitting at the kitchen table cutting tops off, stirring the bubbling pot on the stove, wiping jars down, laughing over a glass of lemonade while the jars' lids sealed with a pop and the kids played tag under the long-needle pines outside the window. A king salmon tastes the best when it carries with it the tanned face from the sun on the river, the tired arms from wrestling a forty-pound fish, the joy of hoisting the prize with the mountains as a backdrop. Alaska ruined my family in this area of food, where hunting and gathering garners major attention. Surrounded by organic wilderness, opportunities to put food on the table abound from picking fiddleheads (fern buds) for salads to ice fishing to hunt- ing for moose. Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) hosted fishing and berry-picking trips. While a successful haul is a blessing, most will admit it's an excuse to be out under the aurora sky, or on the icy water, or tromp- ing through the boreal forest. As much as the taste is important to the meal, so are the people with which you eat it. Crawfish will always be connected to my daughter and her friends celebrating being reunited for a visit, gathering around the table in Louisiana, pulling apart the shells, squealing and laugh- ing at the spattering juice while finding the bites of meat. My understanding of Korean food comes not from a trip to Korea, but from our first-generation-in-America friend who made bulgogi, sending home the leftovers for my always-hungry teenagers. One of the most memorable hail- and-farewells I've attended was catered by a chaplain who flew in lobster to share from his family's business in Maine. Large snowflakes were falling on Fairbanks, Alaska, the kind where you can almost see each crystal pattern as it descends. My headlights made them glitter against the black backdrop. I drove across the dark parking lot to a circle of cars that spotlighted other hockey parents setting out coolers and watching a massive pot on top of a burner fueled by a propane tank. I was greeted by people and the warm salt-water smell; the sea brought a few hundred miles inland. One friend handed my mittened hand a paper plate, another fished out a set of crab legs from the steam. Tailgating, Alaska style. Only a few years before, our family sat on a dock above the Chesapeake Bay with the summer sun shimmering the water. The wooden picnic table was covered in newspaper and Maryland blue crab. Our waitress taught us how to open the palm-sized bodies. We pushed the emptied shells over the side into the twinkling water. Both crab meals left me in wonder. How did a Midwest girl get here, to do this? To travel the country, with a luxury of extended stays, to experience so many things. Wild blueberry picking with friends in Alaska Burrville Cider Mill, N.Y. The Tonia's husband and daughter with a king salmon catch. DECEMBER 2018 / MILITARYSPOUSE.COM 17

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