It wasn’t until after my grandmother passed away that I learned the value of nostalgia. There were Sundays that went by where the household was split up and the communication between people grew more and more distant. Months could go by before I saw my sibling or my parents. When she was alive, Sundays were spent at her house, eating the same food at the same time of day. It was a guarantee there would be chicken and an overcooked sirloin steak, green beans and mashed potatoes. The grandest of these dishes was a small bowl of fideo.
Fideo, for the non-TexMex citizen, is vermicelli noodles and ground beef, seasoned and eaten. It’s a family recipe in most cases, passed down generationally. Some families use a tomato base to their Fideo. My grandmother never did. Hers had its own beef broth based sauce to it. This was the ultimate comfort food of my young life. When I failed a test, Grandma gave me Fideo. When I skinned my knee, we ate Fideo. When I was sick, the first real food eaten was Fideo. Fideo was the food that brought me through all the dark times. Grandma was a brilliant cook, but one thing she was not good with was sharing. She didn’t often share her opinions to her grandkids. She certainly didn’t share recipes. When she died, the recipe for her Fideo died with her.
I spent years trying to replicate it. I would try other people’s Fideo and never find it good enough. “This isn’t my grandmother’s Fideo!” I’d often proclaim, usually bitterly. It would still be good, but it wasn’t the same level of satisfaction I received from my grandmother’s food.
This is the heart of Nostalgia, its true meaning. When a series is rebooted from my youth, or a genre picked up I hadn’t seen in years, the nostalgia of it gets lifted. In most cases, you watch it, remember why you loved it originally and feel rewarded because that love is carried through. You are loving it for the nostalgia it brings you. When this new item deviates from what you remember, you feel unsatisfied and often times betrayed. This isn’t your memory. This new thing isn’t real!
Many outraged from fandoms come from this type of nostalgia. At its heart, people are not giving a new piece its own chance, but instead they are holding it up to the pedestal they have designed for it based on their nostalgia. Depending on how faithful it leaves you, will depend if you in turn bring out candles to celebrate or torches to set it on fire.
I’ve come to value nostalgia very little. It is nice to remember things from my past, but in that remembrance to remember why I liked what I did at that time. Take fandoms. I have several fandoms that I follow and have for years. I follow them because of what it meant to me at certain stages in my life. I’ve changed since then too. I expect what I love has too. I will not hold it today to the standards I had for it yesterday because today is not yesterday. I don’t wish to be held up to what I was. I wish to be seen for who I am today. Why would I treat my loves any differently?
I cook Fideo a couple of times a month for myself and my family. It’s not what my grandmother used to make, but it is inspired by her. When we sit and eat the meal together, we share stories of her and the old days and laugh about them. It’s a bittersweet experience. You ask any of my family now, they tell you that they love my Fideo the best because they can eat it now. I wouldn’t want it any other way.