Monday, August 16, 2010

"Goodies in the Native Tongue...." – Food and Memory


From Johnny Otis' (born John Veliotes, 1921–) newly reprinted autobiography (2009), Listen to the Lambs (University of Minnesota Press):

"The night before I left Omaha we had a little farewell get-together in a little 24th Street restaurant. The proprietor, sensing that this was some kind of occasion, brought out some Near-Eastern delicacies.

'Here are some nice Greek sweets for your little party, boys,' he said. As he spread them out he began to explain what they were called in the native tongue.

Preston Love [a renowned alto saxophonist and songwriter (1921–2004)] looked at me and smiled. The old Greek [proprietor] didn't know it, but Preston knew that I could've identified them as well as he. The smells and tastes of the almond-sesame-honey goodies swept me back to when I was a little kid" (72)

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