Simple foods often have wonderful associations. For example, the April issue of Saveur focuses on authentic ragu and its place on the Bolognese table. But the editorial of that same issue is on Ragu brand spaghetti sauce and how it provided a good sauce base for transplanted Italians—who added lots of special ingredients, then stashed the empty jar so no one would know.
For me it’s Tang, specifically HOT Tang, in the office of my college adviser and English professor. Dr. Wheeler always had an aged coffee pot on hand, filled with hot water and ready to offer students a cup of hot cocoa or hot Tang. With books and papers stacked dizzyingly high, that office was always a warm, welcoming place. Dr. Wheeler had an easy and infectious laugh, and her office provided a cozy haven as I sat in my coat with the snow melting and dripping on the floor, sipping hot Tang and discussing literature, progress on the yearbook or perhaps nothing in particular, with a wise and wonderful woman who understood the importance of a pot of hot water and a humble jar of powdered orange juice.
Who cares if this is a shade of orange not often found in nature?! Some of our most cherished food memories, particularly for those of us living in the United States, involve foods whose colors are a bit suspect.
To Dr. Wheeler, I raise my mug of hot Tang and offer a hearty “Cheers!”