Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Food we ate when we were growing up

I know I've addressed this before, but my niece's recent BLOG about broccoli got me to thinking about likes and dislikes in the food department that we, as children, had.

The first one that comes to mind as a dislike is LIVER. Oh, how we ALL hated that stuff. But daddy liked it, so every once in a while, too often for me, mom would make liver. And, we HAD to eat our small (thankfully small) portion. The only way I could get that stuff down was cutting it very, very small and surrounding it with mashed potatoes so that it would slide down without having to chew it (or taste it). Mom, thankfully, wasn't real fond of liver either, and so she told us about the mashed potato trick, and she always made mashed potatoes when we had liver.

The second dislike that comes to my mind is TONGUE. Ewww! While it really does taste sort of like ham, I could never get past those taste buds. The way it felt on my own tongue made me gag, and gag I did with every single bite. Mom wasn't as generous with mashed potatoes when we had tongue, because oddly enough she liked the stuff. And fortunately we had it only once or twice a year.

I don't recall disliking any vegetables except for TURNIPS. Since we depended a lot on what people gave us in the vegetable department, and what we raised, we didn't get many turnips. I think I had to endure that horrible root veggie only once or twice in my life.

I know my brothers and sister weren't overly fond of BEETS, but I loved them. I loved them pickled or hot with lots of butter or in orange sauce. Beets were one of my favorite veggies and my father loved them.

My mother had a knack with LIMA BEANS -- which I really liked -- that I don't have. Her limas were always soft in the middle and the skins were still intact. My limas seen always to be very hard through and through. Maybe it's the beans? Do I over cook them? Do I under cook them? I don't know. I've tried cooking them for a long time and they are still hard as rocks, which would lead me to believe I over cooked them. Then I cooked them for a shorter time, and still they were hard. So, while I like lima beans, we don't eat them very often. Dad liked succotash, and mom saved the left-over limas and then the next night combined it with corn (which we always had on hand because she froze a lot of it in the summer).

Now, to the subject of my nieces, hilariously well written article on BROCCOLI (click on my favorite BLOG list, All Because Two People Fell in Love and read the BLOG entitled "We must keep up the fight"). I know my niece, Lori, gets her dislike of broccoli from her father, my brother, Mark. I'm not sure she's ever even tasted this wonderful veggie. I love broccoli. I don't like it raw, however. My children weren't especially fond of it, but I made it at least once a week when they were growing up. Alan ate it, but wasn't particularly fond of it, so now that it's just the two of us, we don't have it very often.

Growing up, we had broccoli a lot in the summer because people would give to us from their abundance. My mother basically blanched it and served it with butter, salt, and pepper. While I enjoyed it that way, after I was married a friend introduced me to a sauce she used on broccoli and I started putting that on the broccoli all the time. It a mixture of mayonnaise and mustard -- three tablespoons of mayo and 1 tspn of mustard, all mixed together and poured over the broccoli. My own children would tolerate brocolli served that way. I guess the sauce masked the flavor of the broccoli for them. Alan started to enjoy the broccoli after I fixed it that way. Now I even use that sauce for his chicken, and anything else he's not particularly fond of.

In thinking back to when I was a child and when we were fed based on what (1) mom could afford, which wasn't much, and (2) what our generous parishioners handed us, I don't think there was much we all didn't like because I think we knew we were eating what God had given us for that day, whether it was a chicken that mom had to pluck given to us by our neighbor who raised chickens and supplied us with eggs on a daily basis, or whether it was from a neighbor who had an over supply of broccoli in his garden. We ate what we had and enjoyed it or went very, very hungry.

I personally am thankful for the variety we had and especially the way my mom cooked what was given to us and stretched it so that we didn't go hungry. God was good.


1 comment:

Lori said...

Oh my gosh!! My dad STILL talks about how gross eating tongue was. I thank the Lord mom never made that for us. Sooooo disgusting!!! Now, beets, he likes. He and mom both do. I mock them on a regular basis for eating them. And, he still likes limas. They had us eat them as a kid, but I never really liked them much. Maybe it's because it wasn't cooked like Grandma made them, but they just weren't anything special. I remember a specific time when dad made them himself and I do believe they were still partially frozen. Yeah, um, not good. I honestly like most of my veggies raw, not cooked. Kind of like I like my coffee and tea black. I don't like a lot of things done to my food. Guess I'm boring that way. But, I will say that I'm thankful that I was spared from eating at least some of the things you listed that you ate as a child. Tongue, turnips, beets, and broccoli are NOT things I hope to ever have the displeasure of eating. :-)