My family lived in Texas and then North Carolina in the winter when I was growing up, but we came to Maine most summers. My Maine grandparents lived with us, and my grandmother did most of the cooking. In the winter, it was only when I visited with friends that I discovered that we did not eat the same foods.

At our house, my grandmother used canned salmon to create salmon croquettes and salmon loaf. She baked the chicken and occasionally would cook lamb chops. She made gingerbread cookies and gingerbread as a dessert. When she cooked with nuts, they usually were walnuts.

At my friends’ houses, they ate a lot of greens cooked with a ham hock and then doused with vinegar when on their plates. In Texas, they ate barbecued chicken or pork with a smoky, thick tomato-based sauce. In North Carolina, they ate pulled pork with a vinegar sauce minus the tomato or ketchup flavor. On special occasions, they ate ham with a special gravy. Their desserts usually used pecans.

What foods were unique to Maine? In the summers, my mother always looked forward to buying hermits from the Nissen truck, which came to the farmhouse to sell pastries and bread. My parents ate a lot of seafood in the summer.

Since my family was large (there were five children), my parents insisted that lobster was only for adults. My grandmother loved fried scallops and would occasionally give us a taste, but most of the time we children were relegated to hot dogs and hamburgers. For dessert, we all went blueberrying and Mom made a pie with our pickings.

We went to farms that made their own ice cream and picked flavors like pistachio or peppermint stick that were not available in the South. My mother loved Indian pudding and grape-nut pudding. My grandmother made bread pudding filled with raisins and flavored with nutmeg.

The joke was that all of grandmother’s desserts were the color of autumn leaves. I think this was said because she used molasses in a lot of the recipes.

The differences don’t seem as large these days. People all over the United States eat pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw on top of the meat. Blueberries are available fresh, the large cultivated variety, and frozen, and even were grown in Maine. Seafood is available in most supermarkets and is of a better quality now. Children tend to eat pizza, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti as well as hot dogs and hamburgers.

My family may be dispersed across the South, but we blend both regions in our daily meals.

— Special to the Telegram