"Well... you're just lucky you didn't have to eat what we had to eat when we were kids!" Now, before I launch into my "I had to eat the yuckiest stuff ever as a kid story," be assured that I am aware of many out there - many in our own communities - who do not have enough or maybe anything at all to eat. It's not right. I have never gone without food. I have been blessed beyond belief. My mom cooked and baked and served many delicious meals. This is merely an example of a parental experience that illustrates how food can consume us - ironically - while we are consuming it.
Our son was lamenting about how I once substituted waffle fries for tater tots in the wildly popular and gourmet "Tater Tot Casserole." He's right. It wasn't good. But, what he doesn't understand is that it was not bad either. It simply was.
To further illustrate this point, my husband and I somehow read each others' minds and quickly staged the biggest, baddest one up-man-ship contest you ever saw... in the Burns house, anyway. I kicked it all off with,
ME:"Did you ever have to eat beef heart - under the auspices that it was simply meat?"
HIM:"No... but did you ever have pimento loaf sandwiches with a side of pickled herring?"
ME:"Yes... I mean, no. I have seen pimento loaf and I have eaten pickled herring... separately. But what about liver and onions... twice a month?"
HIM:"No we didn't have it twice a month... we had it once a week!"
This is where the kids offered their squinched up noses and ewwws and ick comments.
ME:"And what about oyster stew... every Christmas Eve?"
HIM:"Yes. We did that too. Kids, you don't know how good you've got it! When's the last time you had to eat anything that had to be fished out of a pool of hot milk and when you finally captured it and slurped it up, you were sure that someone accidentally dropped an eyeball with a rubber gasket around it in your bowl?!"
HIM:"And when's the last time you ate a Miracle Whip and peanut butter sandwich?"
That's where I had to stand down. Who knows why anyone would ever eat that? Thank you, Mom for never coming up with that combination.
ME: "And gizzards! Have we ever even shown you a gizzard - let alone, put one in your food?"
HIM: "Yeah... gizzards. We had to eat 'em with sauerkraut!"
Okay, so we were going off the deep end for a moment and this is where our son interrupted with, "What's a gizzard?" Everything was going fine... until then. For whatever reason, the Dad in this family decided to give a quick anatomy lesson on bird digestive parts - all of them. Let me just say that when it was over, my ten year old son was laughing so hard, his face was the color of stewed tomatoes (something else I had to eat) and he couldn't catch his breath... and I ended up leaving the table out of sheer disgust.
When the laughing fits ended (both son and father were suffering from gasping for air), my daughter, quietly added, "I liked the waffle fries." What she meant was, "Someone put me out of my misery... now."
I'm not sure any lessons were learned... Just thankful no one at my house ever said after running into one another, "Hey! You got your peanut butter in my miracle whip! No, you got your miracle whip in my peanut butter!"