Wednesday, November 07, 2007

(Some Rambling) Food for Thought

I've been thinking a lot about food lately. I mean, I always think about food, because I really like to eat it. I would consider myself a foodie, really: I love to cook and to bake and to read cookbooks and to eat and to grocery shop. But lately, I've been thinking a lot more than usual about food. Part of it is that I am finally reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, her book about eating homegrown and local food almost exclusively for a year. And, too, now that we are no longer dorm parents and no longer eat in the cafeteria, I am cooking again with regularity. And with the kids pouring Halloween candy down their throats and with Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas cookies to start baking, oh, just any day now, there are a lot of food topics for me to think about while doing the dishes and gazing out at the falling leaves. You know, because now that I am a full time stay at home mom, that is what I do with half of my day.

I have been reading food memoirs for a year or so now--a genre I didn't know existed until recently, actually. I never thought I could write about food, since I'm not actually a gourmet, or gourmand, or whatever. But a food memoir. You know, like, why I enjoy food and what memories I have about food and what role eating and cooking have in my life. Now that I could write.

But at this point I'm just brainstorming.

I think I was, perhaps, a strange child. I do remember liking a few foods typical of what many children like: macaroni and cheese (the boxed stuff, thank you very much, minus the tuna and peas my mother liked to add), popcorn, and anything sweet. But beyond that, what I remember aren't likely the foods we ate everyday. What I do remember are the coconuts, brought home by my dad as a treat or purchased with my saved up allowance--yes, I said already that I was a strange child--that we would crack opened with a hammer, catching the liquid essence of coconut inside with a bowl. We would spend the rest of the day slivering off pieces of the coconut meat to eat. In the same exotic fruit category, I remember my dad bringing home asian pears. The ones I remember were larger than the ones available today, although perhaps this is just the work of my memory, recalling the fruit proportionally to my age. There would be one asian pear for the entire family, and after dinner my dad would slice irregular pieces and dole them out one at a time around the table.

I also must have had a thing for fried foods, because I remember my mom making corn fritters and tempura. I think she only made each of these once, but my sense memories, especially of the tempura, are strong. I remember dipping each vegetable in the batter--I think I helped with this part--and then my mom would lower a batch into the hot oil. It would bob to the surface a few minutes later, the smell of the tempura mingling with the scent of the hot oil.

Also, I loved cucumbers with salt and filet o' fish from McDonalds. And "kippered seafood snacks" on saltine crackers, a snack so horrific I can't bring myself to try it again as an adult. Just think whole small fish, brined and tinned. But I tell you, I loved it as a kid.

On my list of "won't eat" at the tender age of seven? Liver, bologna and miracle whip. That is all I can honestly remember disliking. Although I probably still ate these things, because I ate whatever I was served. No questions.

Which raises this question for me: why are my kids so picky? Is it because I don't force them to eat whatever I'm eating? I just doesn't seem fair to force a kid to eat something, especially since I like things like shellfish and stinky cheese. I mean, my kids--Luke, really, because he is the picky one and Henry just sometimes follows his lead--do eat healthy foods. Luke in particular is just very limited in what is acceptable to him in each food category. Vegetables? Steamed green beans and broccoli, cooked corn and peas, raw carrots and pea pods. Fruit? Fresh and frozen berries, melon, and an occasional pear or apple. Protein? Beans, nuts, and only McDonalds chicken nuggets because, according to Luke, "they don't taste like chicken." Grains? White rice, any kind of buttered pasta, and bread that "doesn't have crunchy things in it." Dairy? Milk and melted cheese.

Of course, Craig will, and does, eat refried beans, cheese and salsa melted together with tortilla chips every night of his life. He swears that this is his secret formula, why he can eat whatever he wants and not exercise all that much and still remain slim and fit. I don't know about that, but maybe my boys have gotten their repetitive eating patterns from their dad.

Anyway, this isn't a great post, but I can't write any more. I need to go eat.


Beck said...

Oh! When I was sick and home from school - which happened frequently - my dad would serve me saltines, canned oysters and sardines for lunch with cheese. I LOVED it and that was the only time in my whole childhood that it ever happened.
Great post, really. I love food.

Dove Knits said...

When I was 3-4, all I would eat for breakfast was macaroni and hot dogs. Every day. This was during the era when things were available only randomly in Russia, so my parents had to scour the city looking for hot dogs.

Otherwise, I was never picky. I'm still not picky, although I'm vegetarian, which limits what I eat, obviously. I disliked eggs (still do) and boiled buckwheat (hate it with a passion. It's THE only food I absolutely will not eat, ever), but ate absolutely everything else. I loved cucumbers and lettuce and tomatoes with salt. Bananas were only available in May, and I'd eat 2-3 in a sitting. Tangerines were only available in December and January, and I'd eat them one after the other as a snack while reading. Another thing I loved eating was dried, salted bread. I still love that, and buy little packages of it, like chips, whenever I'm back in Russia

My weirdest favorite snack was vobla, which is whole fish, head and organs intact, salted and dried. I looooved that stuff. You peeled off and ate the meat kind of like string cheese. It was salty and pungent. I tried it again as an adult, and wasn't nearly as crazy about it. Maybe it was the fact that it kept staring at me.

Russell, on the other hand, is very

I think McDonald's should use Luke's quote about Chicken McNuggets in their next ad campaign.

Dove Knits said...

That's supposed to say that Russell is very picky.

Mara said...

I bought and ate an Asian pear the other day, in remembrance of childhood.
And I really think they were bigger when we were kids. Really.