For photographer Cassandra Birocco, it’s her dad’s scrambled eggs known as Joe’s Army Eggs. She snapped this photo yesterday from her Sunday morning breakfast and recalled eating them with ketchup growing up in Western Pennsylvania. Cassandra and I grew up together and nearly everyone in Western Pennsylvania eats scrambled eggs with ketchup — and it’s only the Pittsburgh-based Heinz ketchup.
A food memory still vivid to me is simply called Gravy on Bread. After mom’s rib-sticking meal, we took a piece of white bread, poured the gravy on it and ate it. If there was any gravy left the next day, mom would ask if we wanted Gravy on Bread for lunch.
I can still picture my brother Johnny sitting at the table and performing his Gravy on Bread assembly. He is 12 years older than I am so as a little girl I found his food rituals fascinating. I just sat and watched not saying a word.
He placed the bread on his plate, poured the gravy carefully, then salt and peppered the slab. Then, with utmost precision he cut each piece with a fork and knife, delivered it to his mouth, chewed silently as I watched, and chipped away until there was no more on the plate, using the last piece of cut bread to sop up the remaining gravy. A big wash of Vitamin D whole milk came next. He always had an intense focus on his food. You should see him butter a grilled steak and carve it down to the last bite!
Food and the people that made it and ate it, formed us. That’s hospitality.