Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Culinary Heritage

I have been thinking lately about some of the things we ate when I was growing up. My father was a hunter and fisherman, so we always had plenty of fresh game in the freezer. Venison, duck, catfish, quail, we had it all. It one point in my growing up years we had a huge garden in our little yard, so we had fresh vegetables just outside the door. We even had chickens on two different occasions, so we had fresh eggs.

While all of that is well and good, not everything that we ate was so wholesome. Let me elaborate.

  • Chinese food. The only thing I knew of Chinese food growing up was La Choy. You remember them. They made "Chinese food...swing American!". I hated it. Loathed it. Went hungry on Chinese nights. When I was in college, my boyfriend's parents wanted to take us out for Chinese food. I was petrified. What would I eat? I hated Chinese food. They ordered family style. Oh. My. Gosh. I was such a deprived child! I had no idea of the culinary delights that had escaped my palette. We went out for Mexican food, pizza, cafeterias, and what not, but we never went out for Chinese. I ditched the boyfriend and kept the love of Chinese food.
  • One of my favorite side dishes when I was a child was half of either a canned peach or pear with mayonnaise - MAYONNAISE - where the pit was and the grated cheddar cheese on top. I don't know if this was unique to my household or a Southern thing, but we ate it with some regularity. I loved it. Probably still would if I could get around the idea of eating a mound of mayonnaise or eating canned fruit.
  • Speaking of mayonnaise, I didn't do this often, but my dad would get a jar of the stuff, a fork, and a pan of cooking pot roast. He would stand over the pot, scoop the fork in the mayonnaise, and then rip off a piece of the roast. Bite after bite. It is amazing that the man is still alive.
  • Sweet breads. I can hardly write it without gagging. Sweet breads are not breads that are sweet. Sweet breads are gross. Sweet breads taste like fried fat. They are the thymus glands or pancreas of a cow. I only remember eating them on one occasion myself, but it was a vivid enough memory that I never did it again. My dad and uncle still eat them every Christmas morning and seem to enjoy them. They are sick and deranged men. Probably from eating sweet breads.
  • Or it could be from eating brains. Yes, brains. Brains and eggs to be exact. I'm gagging again. This was a treat usually reserved for Christmas breakfast. While the adults swore they made you smarter, I am leaning to the contrary. I only remember eating them on one occasion myself, but it was a vivid enough memory that I never did it again. (Have I heard that somewhere before.) Thankfully, my dad has had trouble finding them in recent years, probably a result of all the mad cow, so we don't have to suffer through them being cooked at Christmas.
  • And one of my personal favorites: fried eggs and donuts. But not just any donuts. No. We took leftover donuts and sliced them in half like a bagel. Buttered them. Yes, b-u-t-t-e-r on a donut. Then placed them in the oven for a few minutes to toast them. Then we'd eat them with over-easy fried eggs dipping the crunchy, buttery donut into the runny, yellow yolk. Can't you feel your arteries hardening as read about it? Man, that was some good eating.
What about you? Any skeletons in your food closets? Or would that be pantries?


Michelle said...

I don't think I have any skeletons in my pantry, just that I always liked school cafeteria food and I think I'm the only person I know who carried a love of McDonald's into adulthood.

Oh wait, there is my grandfather's cooking! I lived with my grandparents (on my mom's side, not the Carrs) for 8 years when I was a child. My grandfather has this theory of cooking, which is that it's all going to the same place so you may as well cook it all in the same pan. It really didn't matter what he was making -- he'd dump the main dish and any side dishes all into the same pan and fry it up. Blech.

There have been a lot of foods that I learned to love only after having Mark cook them "right." My grandfather's salmon croquets and my mom's pork chops are not NEARLY as good as Mark's. Which is why, if I ever claim not to like a particular food, Mark insists that I withhold judgment until he makes it for me. :)

Jubilee on Earth said...

LOL!! This had me cracking up. My father tried to trick us into eating brains -- he breaded them, fried them in little chunks, and told us they were home-made chicken nuggets. Boy, did he get a surprise when I barfed everywhere after taking a bite!!! We made homemade French Fries. That's about it.

Anonymous said...

You brought back some memories. My mom made that pear/mayo/cheese thing from time to time. Sometimes she would add a cherry on top as well.

I hated brains and eggs. We raised hogs so those wonderful hams and chops and sausages were offset by brains,liver&lights, and chitterlings (chitlin's). Thanks for the memories.

By the way I wandered over from Pioneer Woman's blog

Anonymous said...

My mother used a tricky tactic to get me and my 2 brothers to eat liver. Yep, it happened every halloween. "You're not going 'trick-or-treating' until you eat all of your dinner.

I despised this tactic, although it was effective.


Julie said...

Nobody had to make me eat liver. I loved liver and onions. And chicken livers, too. We used to get a pint of them from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yummy!