Dawn Kessinger: Share a meal — What makes food memorable?

What makes a particular kind of food or meal more memorable than another kind?

My brain tumor has robbed me of countless memories. It’s odd and annoying to have a black void where memories used to reside of activities I did on my own for years or places I had visited regularly since childhood. But forgetting what happened — including good food that accompanied events or occasions I shared with my family — is like a recurring roundhouse kick to my heart. I’m bruised and recovery seems unlikely.

I have no recollection at all of the foods I might have enjoyed at either my high school or college graduations. Nor do I remember what was on the menu at my wedding reception (not even what the cake looked or tasted like, though I’m guessing chocolate was involved). Though I do recall my husband treated me to ice cream every day of our honeymoon. There was a Baskin-Robbins we’d visit on our daily walks. I hope I tried some different flavors; the only flavor that has stuck with me and continues to tickle my memory is mint chocolate chip.

Probing my brain for more treasures, images of Dairy Queen and Whippy Dip materialize. It seems my love for ice cream has sunk deeper into my brain than any tumor has been able to reach and therefore cannot steal.

When I was a kid, I feel fortunate to remember that sometimes — no special occasions that I can recall, just for the fun of it — my parents would take me somewhere that specialized in ice cream, but had other items on the menu as well. We’d have dinner first; I had to consume a sandwich before I could enjoy some ice cream. Eventually, the “had to” faded and I anticipated the coney dogs almost half as much as I did the ice cream.

As an adult I still like hot dogs and coney dogs — and walking tacos. But I have also enjoyed for many years the shredded chicken sandwiches most ice cream shops offer. They’re a golden nugget I treasure because they’re part of warm and happy memories I can still access — and will never take for granted.

This recipe makes enough shredded chicken for a large family of four to eight (and one that doesn’t mind eating shredded chicken sandwiches for a week or two). If you want a smaller batch (still plentiful for a couple or family that wants a few days’ worth of sandwiches, rather than a few weeks’ worth), cut the recipe in half.

Shredded Chicken Sandwiches


• 1 50-oz or 2 28-oz cans boneless chicken (I used Keystone; my family’s recipe called for Sweet Sue)

• 3 sleeves Townhouse crackers

• 2 large eggs

• 2 10.5-oz cans Cream of Chicken or Celery soup

• Sandwich buns

Set your Crock-Pot to the high setting. Add the cans of chicken, eggs, cans of cream soups, and sleeves of crackers — crumbled — into the Crock-Pot and stir. Cook for 2 hours on high, stirring every 20-30 minutes to prevent the edges from burning.

Want to share a meal with The Lima News readers? Send your recipe with your name, city of residence, phone number (won’t be published) and a photo of your meal to [email protected].