Happy Father's Day To The King Of Food Memories

On my list of all-time favorite foods, Burger King's sausage, egg and cheese Croissan'wich holds a curious place towards the top. I think about getting one almost every weekend, although now that I'm more conscious about what I put into my body, I usually abstain. It's not that I think the Croissan'wich is a particular triumph in the annals of breakfast sandwich history. Don't get me wrong — it's a good sandwich, but the appeal is purely nostalgic. When I was little, we would wake up early on weekend mornings and my father, brother and me would walk to Burger King to get breakfast. So now, every time I think of getting one, I think about my dad.

Dad and I communicate a lot through food. In my younger years, where we didn't have all that much to say to each other, food informed our discussions. I was 11 or so when I started taking an acting class 45 minutes away from my house. Every Saturday, my dad would make the hour-and-a-half round trip drive to take me there. We'd leave early so we could get breakfast at Sarkis, a greasy spoon owned by a voracious Armenian man who made something called "disaster sausage" that I couldn't get enough of. After class, we'd stop for a cookie at Great Harvest Bread Company and then listen to NPR's "What'd'ya Know?" Quiz Show on the way home. Still, to this day, whenever either of us says "what'd'ya know?" to the other, we respond with the trademark "Not much. You?" It makes me think of oversized oatmeal raisin cookies every time.

As I got older, food continued to bring us closer together. Dinners after my lacrosse games in high school, late night conversations over cold cuts on college breaks when I was high out of my mind and my dad knew it. Even now when I go home, the first question beyond "how you doing?" is always "where do you want to eat?"

Eating with and around my father hasn't always led to good things. I can't eat veal because of a horrendous night when he pan-fried some cutlets well past being edible, and served them with potato chips. I refused to eat them and got sent to my room. To this day, I have never ordered veal in my life. Same goes for the seemingly endless world of Eastern European sausages that he knew in encyclopedic detail. Knockwurst, liverwurst, any kind of wurst you can imagine, really. My dad would make a special stop at Paulina Market in Chicago and bring home his tubed bounty as if they were prized treasures of a forgotten civilization. The smell alone was enough to give me a sausage complex that I still haven't overcome. Every time I see one on a menu, though, I think of my dad and smile, knowing full well that there's probably a link of knockwurst in his fridge right now waiting to be devoured.

My best memories with my dad all involve food. The hot dogs he would pick up for me when the rest of the family ordered in Chinese (which I despised). The unexpected streak of peanut butter he put under omelets he made. The meal at Tru in Chicago to celebrate his 50th birthday that showed me how elegant food can be, and, ultimately, created a passion for food inside my little teenaged brain that still hasn't been squashed. Food created so many of the connections that bind me to my father. I can only hope that I get to eat a million more meals with him.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you. Now let's go get a Croissan'wich.

Looking for the perfect gift for your food-loving dad? Check out our 15 Father's Day Gifts For The Dad Into Food.

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