Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feeding a Genius, Part 1 (of 150)

Food. Fuel. A scientific equation of oxygen, water, and carbon exchanged.

In the beginning, there was food. I remember tuna-noodle casseroles, popcorn, fried bologna & cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, Bit-o-Honeys, cold bologna & cheese sandwiches, a.k.a, "bologna & cheese combination" which included yellow mustard, sliced onion, and sliced tomato in season, S.O.S--which abbreviates Shit-on-a-Shingle and is made of chipped or ground beef in gravy over toast, deviled eggs on special occasions, chili, beef vegetable soup, potato soup, scrambled or fried eggs (any time of day), American cheese, white bread, frozen and canned vegetables (peas, broccoli & carrots, corn), apples, peanut butter on toast or with or without jelly. In sum the palate of my early childhood was dull, salty, and mostly monochromatic. 

When my mom and I left the family home, my (our) palate(s) expanded. I remember her experimenting with a Betty Crocker cookbook. Was that how my mother learned to cook? What did her mother teach her? Her grandmothers, aunties, cousins? [I will ask her and let you know.]

I didn't grow up cooking per se, but did grow up rooted to a chair in the kitchen. My grandmother played talk radio and cooked dinner. I sat in the chair and did whatever task she gave me, usually peeling potatoes or mashing something. Sometimes I fiddled with Pappy's crossword puzzles instead of cooking. My mom would let me put stuff in the pot--she would chop and I would cart chopped bits to the pot. A team of Betty Crockers. 

In my tween years, I started to bake quick breads: banana bread, a zucchini bread once, a coffee cake here and there. Mostly, I made sandwiches, frozen pizza, Hot Pockets, Toaster Strudel, tater tots, Pizza Rolls, the commercial foods of my generation. I had no interest in cooking and a medium interest in food. Like most girls my age, my interest in boys (giggle, bat lashes, blush, turn away) grew over time as did my interest in music, pizza, movies, roller skating, and all social activities. I had only a cursory interest in anything that was not a way to make frienemies and aquire boyfriends.  I wanna hold your hand. Staying in the kitchen was not an option for an up-and-comer like me. 

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