Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gag me with a spoonful of creamed corn. (And turn up your nose at turnip, while you’re at it.)

There was a fun piece over on the Huffington Post in which Yagana Shah listicle’d 13 childhood foods that her fans nominated as the ones they would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever eat in adult life.

I was sure in agreement with some of them.

Creamed corn? That would be right up (down?) there on my list of must avoids. You really want to put something on your kid’s plate that already has the look and feel of vomit and expect them to eat up without producing the real deal?

But how did creamed spinach not make the veggie list?

Creamed spinach was not quite as terrible in at least one respect (color) as creamed corn, yet, for a child who didn’t like spinach to begin with, it was just plain yuck.

And perhaps none of the nominating committee was ever forced to eat a waxed bean from my grandmother’s garden.

Other than the fact that wax is tastier and easier to swallow, I actually thought they were made out of wax.

The only way to get one of these babies down was to pool enough milk in your mouth to float one down your gullet.

My final veggie nominee would have been turnip.

Not that we were ever forced to eat it as children. Even my mother, an ardent believer that you should (and would) eat whatever she put in front of you, never tried to force turnip on us. To this day, I dislike turnip intensely. Maybe it’s the smell… As we used to chant on the occasions when my mother did make turnip (New England boiled dinner night?), which I suppose she and my father ate: “Turn up your nose at turnip.”

Words to live by, my friends. Words to live by.

(All this said, I have two perfectly rational cousins who actually like turnip. They are the only people I know under the age of 85 who do so.)

The other item on the list that I’m 100% in agreement with was liver and onions.

I think my mother force-fed us this dish once or twice a year, perhaps when we were looking a bit peaked, as if we were suffering from iron-poor blood. Or maybe she and my father had, on occasion, the urge to relive the Depression.

The comparatively delicious and easy-to-eat Spam and Jello were both on the yuck list.

No, I would not eat Spam on a bet at this point in my life, but as a kid I liked it. Since my father had spent 4 years in the Navy, we weren’t allowed to have it when he was around. But when he was away, we clamored for it. Very nice served up with home fries.

And while I could take or leave Jello, I did like it as a kid, as kind of an emergency dessert when my mother didn’t have the chance to bake.

Some of the items on Yagana’s list I just flat out disagree with.

Fish sticks, for one.

This was a foodstuff that I rather liked. My mother always served it with a big tossed salad, and I liked when the Ken’s Italian dressing ran off the salad and onto the fish sticks.

Sure, the smell was a bit disgusting, and the taste a bit fishy, but I did like Fish Stick Fridays.

And Kraft Dinner? Yes, you did have to overlook the “radioactive orange” color, but if you got beyond that…

We never had canned ravioli as kids, but we did have Franco-American Spaghetti for an occasional lunch.

Franco bore no resemblance whatsoever to “real” spaghetti, it was just mushy and bland, but I liked it well enough. It was not anywhere near as good as my mother’s spaghetti. For a German girl married to an Irishman, she made an excellent spaghetti sauce.

I can’t imagine opening a can of Franco nowadays, but – perhaps because I was deprived of it as a kid – I have been know to enjoy a single-serving Chef Boyardee ravioli, which is fine, as long as you put the idea of real ravioli out of your mind.

Tuna noodle casserole? Pot pies?

What’s not to like? As long as it wasn’t one of those times when your mother was cheaping out and got the lousy brand that only had upper crust, and used nasty bits of dark meat chicken or turkey, rather than tasty white chunks.

What didn’t make the list that I can still get the old gag reflex going on, although it’s probably been 50 years since I had it put in front of me?

Creamed chipped beef.

Served with creamed corn, this would certainly make a fine dining combo.

But my father liked it, so my mother made it on occasion. (He also liked finnan haddie and milk toast, but my mother never made us eat either of those delectables. What were the here-and-no-further standards being exercised Chez Rogers, in that mostly we had to eat the yucky stuff (c.f., creamed chipped beef), but occasionally we didn’t (c.f., finnan haddie).

As a child, I would only eat an egg that was fried as hard as leather. If there were any sign of runny yolk, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. Today, if someone put a fried egg in front of me that was cooked so hard there was no runniness to it, I’d take a pass. (One time, my mother served me an egg with some offending runny yolkiness. I showed her! I had a rather large baby doll with broken eye sockets, so that when you tilted its head and the eyes rolled, they left an open gap. Easy enough to stuff that egg in there when Mom’s back was turned.)

Anyway, one of the best parts about being a grown up is having pretty much total say over what you eat. The exception, of course, is when you eat at someone else’s home. But it’s hard to imagine anyone inviting you to dinner and serving liver and creamed corn, isn’t it? (Turnip loving relatives be warned!)

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