A group of us like to gather for dinner whenever we can find a free weekend night. Often, we’d find ourselves sitting around the table talking about food. The conversations typically start on a high note, with guests sharing info on great restaurants and memorable meals. As the empty wine and beer bottles begin to pile up, our conversations digress. Our friends often break down in gales of laughter describing some of the food their families would prepare.
Well, I really had no idea what they were talking about. I had never experienced tuna casserole or seven-layer salad (mayo and peas being two of the layers, if you recall). You would never find green bean casserole with condensed mushroom soup and French fried onions baking in our oven.
Well, the mind is a wonderful thing, allowing us to repress memories of those long ago dreaded meals. However, with all the talk about food, the memories eventually come flooding back. I recall my family’s version of Welsh rarebit – a slice of white bread topped with tomato soup and American cheese. Really? I am guessing that was something Mom fed us before she and Dad went out for a nice seafood dinner. Oh, and my Grandmother really loved her aspic and served it frequently. Someday, someone will have to explain the joys of aspic because I simply don’t get it.
Years ago, I came across The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks. This book inspired our Regrettable Food Banquet. Sadly, I no longer have our original menu. I do remember the food was worthy of inclusion in his book. And yes, it shames me to admit it, but we actually enjoyed it.
Tell us about your favorite regrettable food.
I know I’ve discussed “things my momma said” in the past, but now, I think “things the kids say” about food might prove to be an even more interesting! Just off the top of my head, here’s what I’ve come up with:
“There’s nothing in this house to eat!” – Usually muttered just after I’ve stocked the pantry and fridge from grocery shopping. I don’t know any child who has not voiced this complaint multiple times in their life and as a parent it never ceases to make me crazy!
“What’s for dinner?” – I give up, what IS for dinner???
“This tastes gross, what’s in it?” – Gosh, probably something not filled with artificial flavoring.
“There’s nothing in this house to eat!” – Yes, I know I mentioned this already but that’s how often they say it!
“I’m STARVING!” – Often heard about one hour after dinner right after the kitchen is cleaned up.
“Can we go out to dinner tonight?” Now, putting this in perspective, when I was a kid, we probably went out to dinner ONCE! Dinner was reserved for mom and dad as a special occasion. When did it become an expectation instead of a privilege? Seriously!
“THERE’S NOTHING IN THIS HOUSE TO EAT!” Sorry, I just heard it again from my teenager and had to say it one more time!
Would love to hear your favorite kid’s sayings about food. Please share them with us! Spread the love. We’re always up for a good chuckle.
My Great Grandmother had a favorite saying. She actually had many, some of which can’t be shared here. Anyway, we often found ourselves at the dinner table enjoying a leisurely supper. Being the matriarch of the family, she was the first to be offered a second helping. Her response was always the same, “I’ve had a gracious plenty”. We loved this charming response and would often repeat it whether it suited the occasion or not.
For years, our family would gather in Norfolk for HarborFest. The weekend would be filled with fireworks, sailing, and music. Often, we’d retreat to my Grandmother’s waterside condo for a break from the heat and crowds. Being the gracious hostess she was, she would have a buffet laid out for us to nibble on while we enjoyed the views from her balcony.
Now, my Grandmother was a very generous woman in all respects, save one – portion size. She was into portion-control long before it was in vogue. She was a child of the Great Depression and had learned from her mother how to stretch the food budget. These tendencies carried forward throughout her life, despite the changes in the economy and her pocketbook.
I know young ladies are supposed to eat like birds, but sadly, my sister’s and I never adapted to this custom. And, we now came to family events with three very hungry young husbands in tow. A pimento cheese sandwich simply was not going to cut it. You could feel the anticipation form as we entered the hallway to the dinning room. Maybe, just maybe, this time would be different. Well it never was. Her ‘spread” typically consisted of a few finger sandwiches, deviled-eggs and an unusually small bowl of potato salad. Lovely for Ladies-Who-Lunch, but nowhere near enough for our brood. Of course we never starved, but we never left that condo feeling sated either.
We fondly reminisce about those days and my Grandmothers’ peculiarities. Now I wonder if she was really ahead of her time. Perhaps we would all benefit by uttering these 5 little words “I’ve had a gracious plenty.”
There are many things about how I grew up that are different from life as I now know it, and one of the major differences has to be the daily family dinner. Yes, I said DAILY family dinner. How my mother managed to cook a full supper every single night still baffles me to this day. No pizza night, no fast food or drive thru was ever a consideration. The only consideration was did I want my Jello for salad or dessert?
Every night for as long as I remember, the family of three girls plus my mom and dad, sat down for dinner and talked about our day. Yes, we were busy kids. We all took piano lessons, were cheerleaders, were involved in school music programs, and led very social, busy lives. BUT, dinner together was an unspoken mandatory event. Besides, the food was excellent so why wouldn’t I plan my life around dinner? Always a hot homemade meal featuring meat, potatoes, vegetable and of course dessert even if it was Jello or fruit with whip cream on top! But the equally important portion of dinner was the discussions around that table. Arguments, lectures, laughter, or sometimes just the quiet of being together for a brief 30 minute time in a busy day made for a true bond in our family .
Now, as I strive to get a family dinner on the table MAYBE once a week, I wonder if it counts if that “family dinner” isn’t homemade but take-out Chinese as we watch the television show “Glee” in the family room together. Probably not but as I said, my, how times have changed!