I was about six years old when my parents bought their first home. We were on a major street in Toronto, one house in from the corner. The moving truck filled the driveway and the movers were working feverishly to unload the truck and all of its contents. Our contents. I spent the first hour hanging out in the backyard trying to stay out of their way. That's when I noticed them first.
A group of kids came strolling up the driveway. One by one they introduced themselves to me and welcomed me to the neighbourhood. They asked me if I wanted to play and before I could utter a single word my parents gave me the go ahead and I was running down the side street with my new friends. A bunch of kids I didn't know an hour earlier or at any other point in my young life. Five kids that would be soon become the fabric of my life for years to come.
One of those kids was a boy named Paul. He lived three doors down from me on that main street. He was a year younger than me but for a few years we were inseparable. I remember running down the sidewalk that connected my house with his each weekday and weekend. I would count the strides and before I hit ten I was there. The two of us would play in his driveway and tease his younger sister. We did what every young kid does, including selling food and drinks on the corner.
The first time it happened it was the summer and the air was dry and hot. Africa hot. We grew tired of the same games in his driveway and Paul's mom suggested we sell peanut butter and jam sandwiches to make a bit of extra money. We were so young that she did most of the work and all of the wrapping. We watched in delight. Within minutes we loaded the sandwiches on his little red wagon and walked down the street and set up shop in front of the local pharmacy. We probably sold half of those sandwiches that day, strictly because we were cute little kids. The food had nothing to do with it.
I vividly recall walking home that day and wondering how many items we could sell if the food was actually good and the adults felt compelled to buy it. Not just because we were kids but because the food tempted them. After all, PB&J isn't that enticing on a hot summer day. I suggested to Paul's mom that we may something sweet. Everybody likes sweets. And a cold pitcher of lemonade.
On the very next Saturday we sat in her kitchen and watched her make a batch of brownies. She filled the pitcher up with lemonade and water and we grabbed the big wooden spoon and combined to stir it. If the smell in the oven was any indication, this was going to be a very good day. We backed the wagon up to the door and stacked the brownies, all individually wrapped, on board. We stood outside that same pharmacy and held up our crayon splattered sign. "Fudge brownies: 50 cents. Lemonade free with purchase." The first person that stopped by bought one and told us how good they were. This was the start of our downfall.
We probably ate half of the possible profits that day. We covered the cost of the brownies package and had a buck or two leftover. Not that much really. We raced to unwrap the brownies while the other poured cup after cup of lemonade. We pulled his empty wagon back to his house after we ran out and wondered it all went wrong. We figured out that we couldn't sell anything that we liked. We were kids. We had no will power.
Those brownies, even though they came from a package, were the first ones I had. I remember how soft and chewy they were. I remember the smile that crept up on my face when I first tasted them. I remember how happy I was to be a kid in this new neighbourhood. I knew from that moment on that things were going to be ok in this new house and new neighbourhood. Those kids helped write the chapters of my childhood.
Some of my favourite memories are of growing up in that part of Toronto with friends like Paul. We grew up together and learned life lessons together. Even when we went our different ways after high school, we always had those memories. To this day I often sit around and reminisce. I roll back the pictures in my mind and stop at those early days when food and people painted on the canvas of my youth.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
**This is one recipe that I prefer not to post. If you really want it, please contact me and i'll pass it along. Thanks!
Labels: afternoon tea, brownies, chili salt, dessert, fudge, sweets