Ham salad reminds me of my maternal grandma. She made it from scratch, starting with getting the old silver hand-crank cast metal meat grinder out, putting it together, and clamping it onto the edge of the countertop to grind up the ham. She would then add all of the ingredients, in her own exact amounts that no one else would ever understand, creating a concoction that would make my mouth water thinking of its tingly sweetness.
Until the age of 11, we lived in the same small town where my maternal grandparents lived. There were only about 300 people there and some of my happiest memories are of spending summers with my friends riding around town on our bikes. We would be gone for what seemed like hours and our parents had nothing to worry about. I remember one disturbing interruption though when we heard about a slightly older girl who lived in the country outside of town being molested when she was out riding her bike alone. I didn't really understand what that meant other than that our parents made us check in with them a little more often that summer. But the freedom of just wandering around town on our bikes, stopping by the park, the store, the post office, various neighbors' houses ... all very sweet.
I don't eat ham salad much anymore. Living in today's world, I don't find many people who like it and, when I do have ham salad these days, it is often tasteless or sometimes bitter. But grandma's ham salad was sweet and sort of bitey. It had pickles in it and a bunch of other stuff, all working together in a wonderfully orchestrated calamity of flavors.
We had other plans for dinner tonight so I didn't get ham salad for dinner. I know that the entire half pound she bought is mine. Lisa and our son won't touch it. But, at about 9:40 tonight, I could resist no longer, I went to the refrigerator and retrieved the little plastic tub, clicked open the top, and dug in with a spoon. My mouth was watering as I lifted it to my lips. Sweet. Tingly. Delicious.
Thanks for caring so much that you bought me that half pound of good memories today, Lisa. I needed that.